IDF recovers bodies of 3 Nova festival victims, including Shani Louk


(JTA) — The Israeli military has recovered the bodies of three people who were killed in the massacre at the Nova music festival on Oct. 7, including Shani Louk, whose body was photographed being carried away in a pickup truck by Hamas terrorists.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman, said Friday evening in a press conference that the three were killed on the day of the Hamas massacres that launched the war. Like other hostages held by Hamas, their bodies were taken into the Gaza Strip as leverage.

“According to the credible information that we have gathered, Shani Louk, Amit Bouskila and Yitzhak Gelerenter were murdered by Hamas while escaping the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 and their bodies were taking into Gaza,” Hagari said with emotion at a press conference. “They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival, and they were murdered by Hamas.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry had confirmed Louk’s death in late October. She was among the hundreds of mostly young adult Israelis killed at the music festival, which has become a symbol of the day’s horrors. Louk, 22, also became a symbol of the festival’s victims. A video of her dancing shortly before the raid went viral, and a photo of Hamas terrorists parading her body in a pickup truck has spread widely and drawn praise and controversy.

The announcement of the deaths occurred as Israel has driven deeper into Rafah, the city on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Hagari did not say how the bodies were discovered, except to say it was a joint operation by the army and the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. He said the bodies were first sent to a medical examiner and when their identities were verified, families were notified.

“This terrible loss is heart-breaking,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “My wife Sara and I grieve with the families; all of our hearts are with them in their hour of heavy sorrow. We will return all of our hostages, the living and the deceased alike.”

More than 130 people taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7 remain in Gaza. It is not known how many are still alive, although Hamas has released proof of life of videos of a number in recent weeks. Families of the hostages have led protests for months pressing the government to arrive at a deal with Hamas to release the hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a temporary ceasefire.

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