Bodies of three Israeli hostages killed at music festival recovered in Gaza

The bodies of three Israeli hostages taken by Hamas have been recovered in Gaza.

The remains were discovered in an overnight operation carried out by Israel's military and intelligence agency Shin Bet, said chief military spokesman Daniel Hagari.

Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, Amit Buskila, 28, and Shani Louk, 22, were killed at the Nova music festival on 7 October, with their bodies then taken into Gaza by Hamas militants.

Ms Louk's body was seen face-down in a pick-up truck travelling through Gaza in a video that was shared widely on social media after the hostages were taken.

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"They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival and they were murdered by Hamas," said Mr Hagari.

He said their families have been notified.

"Our hearts go out to them, to the families at this difficult time. We will leave no stone unturned, we will do everything in our power to find our hostages and bring them home."

The military did not give immediate details on where their bodies were found.

Ms Louk's father has said the return of his daughter's body to her family has been a form of closure.

Nissim Louk told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz his daughter "radiated light, to her and those who surrounded her, and in her death she still does".

He added: "She is a symbol of the people of Israel, between light and darkness. Her inner and outer beauty that shone for all the world to see is a special one."

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In November, the brother of Ms Louk told Sky News of their last phone call as his sister tried to escape Hamas.

Speaking about the video that was circulated online after she was taken, Amit Louk said: "I never thought I was going to be in contact with this type of video, seeing my sister in that brutal position.

"And just in that moment, the whole family just crashed."

The family of Mr Gelerenter had been "in total darkness" about his fate until Friday, his daughter Yarden Pivko told Channel 12 News.

"We held on to hope and had a lot of faith that the end would be different," she said.

His son Ilai told the Walla news site the family was grappling with "difficult feelings" after the news, adding: "This is a second blow, after the first time we heard about what happened [during the 7 October attack]."

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

Meanwhile, Professor Hagai Levine, a member of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, has said the recovery of the bodies is a "painful reminder" of those who are still in captivity.

"We do not lose hope. We are preparing for the return of the hostages that are alive," he added.

Israel has been operating in the Gaza Strip's southern city of Rafah, where it says it has intelligence that hostages are being held.

Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the 7 October attack.

Around half of those have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a ceasefire 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.

Mr Netanyahu has vowed to both eliminate Hamas and bring all the hostages back.

He faces pressure to resign and the US has threatened to scale back its support over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israelis are divided into two main camps: those who want the government to put the war on hold and free the hostages, and others who think the hostages are an unfortunate price to pay for eradicating Hamas.