Israeli military finds bodies of 3 hostages in Gaza

Palestinians react to flyers dropped by the Israeli military over Khan Yunis on May 17, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

The bodies of three Israeli hostages taken by Hamas during its Oct. 7, 2023 attack were found by Israeli military troops in Gaza on Friday. 

Military officials identified the bodies as those of German-Israeli Shani Louk, 22, Amit Buskila, a 28-year-old woman, and Itzhak Gelerenter, a 56-year-old man, the Associated Press reported. 

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A photo of Louk's twisted body in the back of a pickup truck resonated around the world, bringing attention to the severity of the militants’ attack on communities in southern Israel. 

All three were killed by Hamas at the Nova music festival, an outdoor dance party near the Gaza border, military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a news conference.

According to the AP, the military said the bodies were found overnight and officials did not provide details on where they were located. Israel has been operating in the Gaza Strip's southern city of Rafah, where it says it has intelligence that hostages are being held.

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Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the Oct. 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November, the AP reported. 

Israel tells the AP that roughly 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more. Citing Gaza health officials, the AP noted that Israel's war in Gaza since the attack has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed toeliminate Hamas and bring all the hostages back, but he’s made little progress. Netanyahu faces pressure to resign, and the U.S. has threatened to scale back its support over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story will be updated