The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Friday that they have recovered the bodies of three Israeli hostages killed by Hamas militants during the October 7 attack on the Nova music festival near the Gaza border. The victims were identified as Shani Louk, 22, a German-Israeli woman; Amit Bouskila, 28; and Itshak Gelernter, 56. The discovery of the bodies has reignited the ongoing debate in Israel over the government's handling of the hostage crisis and the war in Gaza.

In a press conference held in Tel Aviv, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari revealed that the bodies were found in a tunnel in the Gaza Strip. "They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival and they were murdered by Hamas," he said. The bodies were transferred to medical professionals for forensic examination before the families were notified.

The image of Shani Louk's lifeless body on the back of a Hamas truck had previously circulated worldwide, drawing attention to the brutality of the militants' attack. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs had declared Louk dead in late October after forensic examiners discovered a bone fragment from her skull.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his grief in a post on X (formerly Twitter), stating, "The heart breaks for the great loss. My wife Sara and I grieve with the families. All our hearts are with them in this hour of grieving." He also pledged to return all hostages, both living and deceased, and congratulated the IDF on their efforts to bring the victims home.

The October 7 attack on the Nova music festival resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and the abduction of around 250 others. During a weeklong cease-fire in November, about half of the hostages were freed, mostly in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The IDF believes that 132 hostages remain in Gaza, with 40 of them presumed dead, including two taken in 2014.

Israel's ongoing war in Gaza, launched in response to the attack, has claimed the lives of more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to eliminate Hamas and secure the release of all hostages, but progress has been limited. The Israeli public remains divided on the issue, with some calling for a halt to the war to prioritize hostage release, while others view the hostages as an unfortunate consequence of eradicating Hamas.

Negotiations mediated by Qatar, the United States, and Egypt have yielded little results. Last Friday, Hamas militants accused Israel of rejecting a ceasefire plan submitted by mediators in Cairo, causing the hostage release talks to return to "square one." The militant group also alleged that Prime Minister Netanyahu was hindering the ceasefire talks to use negotiations as a cover for attacking the southern Gaza city of Rafah.