Israeli army recovers body of French-Israeli hostage

Israeli army recovers body of French-Israeli hostage
Israeli army recovers body of French-Israeli hostage

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Israeli soldiers prepare to go to the Gaza Strip, near the border area in southern Israel on December 13, 2023 amid ongoing battles with the Palestinian Hamas movement. — AFP pic

JERUSALEM, Dec15 — The Israeli army said today it had recovered and returned to Israel the body of French-Israeli hostage Elya Toledano, who was kidnapped and taken to Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 attacks.

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Toledano, 28, was among an estimated 240 people taken hostage during the Hamas attacks on Israel, which were the deadliest in the country’s history.

He was attending a desert rave party named the Tribe of Nova festival along with friend and fellow French-Israeli Mia Shem, who was released under a truce agreement at the end of November.

Scores of mainly Israeli hostages but also foreign nationals were released during the short-lived truce, while several have been confirmed killed in the war that began with the attacks.

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Israeli officials say the October 7 attacks killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, Israel’s ensuing offensive has killed more than 18,700 people, mostly women and children.

“During an operation in Gaza, the body of the hostage Elya Toledano (28) was recovered by IDF Special Forces and brought back to Israel,” the Israeli army said in a statement, adding that forensic experts had identified the remains.

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“The IDF sends the family its heartfelt condolences,” it said, adding that Toledano’s family had been notified prior to the public statement.

The families of hostages had said in recent weeks that they did not know whether Toledano was still alive.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said her country was “deeply saddened to hear the Israeli armed forces announce the death of our compatriot Elya Toledano, a Hamas hostage whose body was found in Gaza”.

“We share the grief of his family and loved ones. The release of all hostages is our priority,” she wrote on X.

According to the Israeli military, 135 of the hostages taken to Gaza are still being held.

Families of the hostages said this week that they were “shocked” by the director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad’s announcement that he was refusing to conduct new negotiations to free them, and demanded an explanation from the authorities. — AFP

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