Body of hostage recovered from Gaza Strip after 'months of torture' as family hit out at 'cowardly' Israeli government

6 April 2024, 16:17 | Updated: 6 April 2024, 16:26

Israel's army said it had found the body of Elad Katzir and believed he was killed in January.
Israel's army said it had found the body of Elad Katzir and believed he was killed in January. Picture: Bring Our People Home/Facebook

By Emma Soteriou

The body of an Israeli hostage has been recovered in Gaza after "months of torture".

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Elad Katzir's body was found in the southern city of Khan Younis, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said.

It is believed that he was killed in January by militants with Islamic Jihad, one of the groups that entered southern Israel during the October 7 attacks, killing more than 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages.

The 47-year-old farmer, from Kibbutz Nir Oz, was abducted along with his mother, Hanna. She was released in November but his father, Avraham, was killed during the attack in Nir Oz.

Mr Katzir's sister, Carmit Palty Katzir, said she felt her brother had been abandoned by the Israeli government.

Read more: Joe Biden steps up pressure on Hamas to agree ceasefire deal ahead of weekend talks

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Sangita Myska speaks to IDF Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner

"He could have been saved if a deal would have happened on time," Ms Katzir said in a Facebook post.

"Our leadership is cowardly and devoid of political considerations and therefore it didn't happen.

"He was abandoned on 7 October and was abandoned for 183 days in captivity, during which he could [have been] returned alive."

She added: "Prime minister, the war cabinet and members of the coalition: Look at yourself in the mirror and say if your hands didn't spill that blood. You have 133 more hostages to redeem, worlds to save."

Ms Katzir concluded saying: "I'm sorry we couldn't save you. I love you forever."

A spokesperson for Kibbutz Nir Oz - where Mr Katzir was born and raised - paid tribute to him, saying he had suffered "months of torture".

"Elad was a man of laughter, hugs and happiness, fields and land," they said.

"He was especially loved by the Kibbutz's children, members, and residents. May his memory be a blessing."

Sangita Myska asks Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner: 'Would you like to apologise to them?"

The discovery has renewed pressure on Israel's government for a deal to get the remaining hostages freed.

At least 36 hostages in captivity have been confirmed dead, while about half of the original number have been released.

Meanwhile, the toll of Israel's ongoing offensive in Gaza is measured in tens of thousands of deaths and more than a million Palestinians displaced.

American and Israeli negotiators have returned to Egypt this weekend in a fresh bid to agree a ceasefire deal.

The negotiations will resume on Sunday, according to an Egyptian official and Egypt's state-owned Al Qahera TV.

Ahead of the talks, US President Joe Biden wrote letters to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, calling on them to press Hamas for a hostage deal with Israel.

"He urged them to secure commitments from Hamas to agree and abide by a deal," a senior official said.

Hamas has insisted on linking a phased end to the war to any agreement releasing hostages.

It has said it will agree to release 40 hostages as part of an initial six-week ceasefire deal that would include the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

The group has also demanded the return of displaced people to devastated northern Gaza and an increase in the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the territory.

Israel has offered to allow only 2,000 displaced Palestinians - mainly women, children and older people - to the north daily during the proposed six-week ceasefire.

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