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Israel recovers bodies of 3 hostages from Gaza as Sullivan heads to region

Israel has recovered from Gaza the bodies of three people kidnapped and killed by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Spokesperson of the Israeli military Daniel Hagari announced Friday that Israeli security forces had recovered overnight the bodies of three Israelis killed by Hamas Oct. 7 and held since then in the Gaza Strip.

"Israeli troops rescued the bodies of our hostages Shani Louk, Amit Bouskila and Itzik Gelerenter, who were taken hostage during the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7 and murdered by Hamas. According to the credible information we have gathered, Shani Louk, Amit Bouskila and Itzik Gelerenter were murdered while escaping the Nova music festival and their bodies were taken into Gaza," said Hagari, adding that the three had escaped Nova and reached the Mefalsim junction, "where they were captured and cruelly murdered." Louk was 23 years old, Bouskila 28 and Gelerenter 56.

The spokesperson added that IDF and Shin Bet special units cooperated in the operation, which was launched upon intelligence including that gathered in the questioning of Hamas militants captured by Israel, but declined to share any details on the operation itself. Hagari noted that once extracted from Gaza, the bodies were transferred to a medical institute. A formal notice was given to the families after the identification process was completed.  

Israeli authorities confirmed Oct. 31 that Louk had been killed and that her body was held by Hamas. The story of the young Israeli-German dual national was heavily covered internationally following the publication of a video showing her seemingly unconscious and bloody body on the back of a Hamas truck, with Gazans hitting it and spitting on it. 

Sullivan on way to region

The news comes as US national security adviser Jake Sullivan departs for a visit to the Middle East that will largely focus on Gaza. Sullivan is expected to arrive Saturday in Saudi Arabia and then travel to Israel on Sunday. In Israel, he is expected to meet with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet member Yoav Gallant. In both countries, Sullivan is expected to discuss the situation in Rafah, humanitarian efforts and plans for after the war. The Biden administration is working to dissuade Israel from launching a large-scale operation in Rafah, where 1.5 million people have taken refuge.

On May 7, Israel launched a limited military operation in the east of Farah, near the border with Egypt. According to Walla News, Israel committed to the Biden administration not to launch a large-scale Rafah operation in Rafah until after Sullivan arrived in the country.

On Thursday, Sullivan convened an in-person meeting of ambassadors representing countries whose citizens were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.  They included representatives from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom, two US officials told CNN.

According to the report, the group of countries discussed ideas to secure the release of the hostages held in Gaza, debating ways to speak more as a collective group.