Israel Says It Recovered Body of Elad Katzir, an Oct. 7 Hostage


Israel’s military said on Saturday that it had recovered the body of a man who was taken hostage from one of the communities hardest hit during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack, almost six months to the day after his abduction.

The man, Elad Katzir, 47, was killed in mid-January while being held in Gaza, an Israeli military official said in a news briefing on Saturday. The circumstances of his death could not be confirmed. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the military operation.

He had lived in Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the border with the Gaza Strip. Over a quarter of its more than 400 residents were either killed or abducted in the attack — including Mr. Katzir’s father, Avraham, who was killed, and mother, Hanna, was also taken hostage, according to the Israeli military.

Hanna Katzir was released in November as part of a brief cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas in which more than 100 hostages were returned. The return of Ms. Katzir, 76, stunned some of her family members, because Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group backed by Iran, had earlier claimed that she was dead.

The families of the remaining 133 hostages held in Gaza have expressed mounting anger and despair, saying that the Israeli government is not doing enough to reach a deal for their release. On Saturday, Mr. Katzir’s sister, Carmit, denounced the Israeli government for not reaching an agreement in time to secure her brother’s release.

“He could have been saved if there had been a deal in time,” she wrote of her brother on Facebook. “But our leadership are cowards, motivated by political considerations, and thus it did not happen.”

About 100 hostages are still being held by Palestinian militants in the enclave, according to the Israeli authorities; over 30 others are now presumed dead.

The Israeli military said that Mr. Katzir’s body had been recovered by troops in Khan Younis, a city in the southern part of Gaza where the Israeli army has been operating since December. Around 8 p.m. on Friday night, Israeli forces arrived in southern Khan Younis, isolated the area and excavated his body from where he was buried underground, the military official said.

Forensic pathologists in Israel confirmed his identity, and officials then informed his family, the military said. The Israeli military’s assertion that he had been killed by his captors, Islamic Jihad, could not be verified.

Islamic Jihad had released at least two videos of Mr. Katzir, a farmer who was born in Nir Oz. He was last seen in a video released in early January, in which he said he had been held for more than 90 days and described hearing on the radio of the death of a close friend from Nir Oz.

Over the past several weeks, Israel and Hamas have resumed indirect negotiations over a possible cease-fire and the release of at least some hostages. Hamas said in a statement on Telegram on Saturday that a delegation of its leadership would travel to Cairo on Sunday for further negotiations.

On Friday, President Biden sent messages to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar — who act as intermediaries between Hamas and Israel — urging them to increase pressure on Hamas to make a deal. He has pressed Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to do the same.

Israeli leaders have insisted that continued “military pressure” on Hamas will force the group to come to the table. The families of many of the hostages, fearing that their loved ones could be killed by their captors or by errant Israeli fire, have demanded more immediate action.

“Your story shouldn’t have ended like this,” Carmit Katzir wrote of her brother on Facebook on Saturday. “I’m sorry we couldn’t save you,” she wrote, adding, “I love you forever.”


Source link

Scroll to Top