This is how the bodies of hostages were recovered from a tunnel in Jabaliya

The bodies of Ron Benjamin, Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila and Shani Louk were recovered from an underground complex in Jabaliya, in an operation by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet under the command of the 98th Division, the IDF announced on Monday.

The bodies were recovered during a night operation in which Battalion 202 of the Paratroopers Brigade, Yahalom soldiers and Unit 504 took part. According to the IDF and the Shin Bet, “the intelligence effort was conducted by the General Security Service and the Prisoners and Missing Persons Headquarters in the Intelligence Division together with the other units in the IDF. It lasted several months and included intelligence gathering and analysis of intelligence indications into a single picture.”

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The bodies of the four hostages were returned to Israel for burial

(Photos: Courtesy of the families)

“During the fighting of the Paratrooper Brigade’s combat team in the heart of Jabaliטa, the soldiers of Battalion 202 fought in the search area for three days in intense battles. In a joint operation, Paratrooper soldiers and the Shin Bet searched a suspicious building in which The tunnel shaft was located. After finding the shaft, Yahalom soldiers In a night operation, entered the tunnel and fought inside it, neutralized roadblocks and located an IED and a number of weapons using unique technologies. soldiers together with Shin Bet forces and Unit 504 located the bodies of the hostages and rescued them from the underground tunnel,” according to the IDF.

“Aside from the operational effort, the Prisoners and Missing Persons Headquarters, which is entrusted with accompanying the families of the hostages, worked together with the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Israel Police to identify the hostages and deliver the messages to the families. The IDF and the security agencies will continue to work for the return home of the hostages.”

The commander of Battalion 202, Lt. Col. Almog, described the rescue. “During the attack, one of the battalion’s companies found a shaft inside a building, and after the arrival of special forces that went inside to investigate the shaft, they actually found four hostages’ bodies, and we brought them home for burial. None of us are prouder to carry out the task and bring those hostages to Israel for burial,” he said.

The commander of the force that recovered the bodies, Major A., ​​said that “on Saturday night we led a special operation to recover the bodies of the four dead hostages. From the moment the shaft was located in the area, the force neutralized the site of explosives in the location and entered into combat along the route of the tunnel. While fighting underground, thorough scans, advanced field analysis and operational experience of the force, we were able to locate, extract and lead the removal of the bodies for a proper burial on the soil of the State of Israel.”

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תיעוד מפעילות כוחות צהתיעוד מפעילות כוחות צה

IDF soldiers operate in Jabaliya

(Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Lieutenant H., head of the investigation squad at the Prisoners and Missing Persons Headquarters in the Intelligence Division, discussed the search for information. “For months, we have been busy at the headquarters collecting intelligence and analyzing countless indications into a single picture. After the complex intelligence work, we were in continuous and close communication with the IDF forces maneuvering in Gaza to direct them to the exact location that the intelligence and analysis revealed,” he explained.

Lt. Col. Maggie Neuberg, commander of the Prisoners and Missing Persons Headquarters, said every family receives assistance. “Each family is closely accompanied by a liaison officer. At the end of the week, upon receiving the update on initial identification, we acted with the full cooperation of the entire team, together with the Israel Police and the Institute of Forensic Medicine in the preparation and briefing of the teams to update the families. The task was to be the first to arrive at the doorstep of the family members’ homes upon receiving official and most reliable information,” she said.

The four Israelis were murdered on October 7, and their bodies were kidnapped and held by Hamas in Gaza. On Friday, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Daniel Hagari announced the return of three of the bodies, and on Tuesday announced another body had been recovered.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the IDF spokesperson’s announcement about the recovery of the bodies that: “This terrible loss is heart-breaking. My wife Sara and I grieve with the families; all of our hearts are with them in their hour of heavy sorrow “We will return all of our hostages, the living and the deceased alike. I commend our brave forces whose determined action has returned the sons and daughters to their own border.”

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