Updated May 18, 2024 - World

IDF recovers bodies of four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza

Protest in Israel to bring hostages home.

Protestors call for a ceasefire deal and for the hostages to be released on May 9, 2024, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Israel Defense Forces identified a fourth hostage whose body was retrieved with those of three others held by Hamas in Gaza, the IDF announced Saturday.

The big picture: The IDF and Shin Bet operation decreased the number of hostages held in Gaza to 128.

  • The fourth hostage was identified as Ron Benjamin.
  • The operation showed many of the hostages were kidnapped after they were killed, or died while in captivity.

Driving the news: The bodies were found in a Hamas tunnel on Thursday during a major operation that IDF forces conducted in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza strip, an IDF spokesperson said.

  • IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a statement that according to "credible and verified" information, the three people were killed by Hamas militants while escaping the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 and their bodies were taken to Gaza.
  • According to the IDF, the Shin Bet obtained intelligence during the interrogations of Hamas members who were apprehended in the Gaza Strip and pointed to the location of the bodies.
  • The soldiers retrieved the body of Shani Louk, a German-Israeli dual national who was kidnapped from the festival, Hagari said. A video of her body being paraded on a pickup truck around Gaza has become one of the symbols for Hamas' atrocities.
  • The other two bodies were of Amit Buskila and Itzik Gelernter.

State of play: Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a possible hostage deal that could lead to a temporary ceasefire in Gaza reached a deadlock last week after several days of talks in Cairo and Doha.

  • While the White House said last week that the current positions presented by Israel and Hamas allow the gaps in the negotiations to be closed and put a deal within reach, it later toned down its optimism.
  • White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met on Wednesday with the ambassadors of 17 other countries with citizens held hostage by Hamas.
  • "The group discussed their collective call for Hamas to immediately release the hostages and ways to bring an end to the crisis," the White House said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information from the IDF. It has also been updated to list the number of remaining hostages held in Gaza.

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