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Bodies of three hostages, including Shani Louk, recovered by Israeli forces in Gaza, officials say

Bodies of 3 hostages recovered in Gaza
Bodies of 3 hostages, including Shani Louk, recovered by Israeli forces in Gaza 02:09

The bodies of three hostages who were taken in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel have been recovered in the southern city of Rafah in Gaza, an Israeli military spokesperson said on Friday. 

The Israel Defense Forces recovered the bodies of Shani Louk, a 22-year-old German-Israeli; Amit Buskila, 28; and Itshak Gelernter, 56, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said. Israel says it believes all three were killed by Hamas while escaping the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 and their bodies were taken into Gaza.

This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Itzik Gelernter, Shani Louk and Amit Buskila. The Israeli military said Friday, May 17, 2024, its troops in Gaza found the bodies of the three Israeli hostages killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7, 2023 attack, including German-Israeli Shani Louk.(Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP) / AP

A photo of Louk's twisted body in the back of a pickup truck was seen around the world and brought to light the scale of the attack on the music festival in the southern Israeli desert, very near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deaths "heartbreaking," saying, "We will return all of our hostages, both the living and the dead."

The military did not give immediate details on where their bodies were found, but said it was the result of intelligence gathered. Israel has been operating in Rafah, where it has said it has intelligence that hostages are being held.

"The return of their bodies is a painful and stark reminder that we must swiftly bring back all our brothers and sisters from their cruel captivity — the living to rehabilitation, and the murdered to a proper burial," the Hostages Families Forum Headquarters said in a statement. 

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

Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more. Israel's campaign in Gaza since the attack has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.

All crossings out of Gaza are now blocked, leaving at least 20 American medics trapped inside. 

"It's been very difficult, leaving my wife and my two kids and surrounding family. It was something that I had to do," Dr. Mohammed Abdelfattah, from California, told CBS News this week. "I felt like the efforts back home were not going anywhere, they were falling on deaf ears."

Meanwhile, trucks carrying badly needed aid for the Gaza Strip rolled across a newly built temporary U.S. floating pier into the besieged enclave for the first time Friday. The shipment is the first in an operation that American military officials anticipate could scale up to 150 truckloads a day entering the Gaza Strip. The U.S. military's Central Command acknowledged the aid movement in a statement, saying the first aid crossed into Gaza at 9 a.m. It said no American troops went ashore in the operation.

President Joe Biden has become increasingly critical of how Netanyahu has carried out the war and Gaza, going so far as to pause shipments of some weapons to Israel because of concerns about the IDF's plans in Rafah.

A U.S. State Department report said last week that it was "reasonable to assess" that Israel has used American arms in ways inconsistent with standards on humanitarian rights but that the United States could not reach "conclusive findings."

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