Israeli soldiers have recovered the bodies of two hostages kidnapped during the Hamas-led attack on Israel last month from buildings near the Al-Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, the Israeli military has said.
The body of Yehudit Weiss, 65, a resident of Be’eri, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza, was found Thursday by troops who in recent days have taken control of much of the hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli military. On Friday, the military said soldiers recovered the body of a second hostage, Corp. Noa Marciano, 19, in a building next to Al-Shifa hospital.
The Israeli authorities say that Hamas and other Palestinian groups took roughly 240 people hostage during the surprise attack on Oct. 7 that left about 1,200 dead in Israel. The ongoing hostage crisis — which involves dozens of dual nationals — has stunned the country and complicated Israel’s hopes of toppling Hamas in Gaza.
Israeli officials say the hospital complex hosts major Hamas facilities, some in underground bunkers, a claim that Hamas and hospital officials reject. The military has said the presence of the hostages’ bodies near the hospital is indicative that Hamas used the complex.
In its statement on Thursday, the military did not reveal how Ms. Weiss had died. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters that soldiers searching within and beneath the hospital complex had found weapons belonging to her captors near her remains.
“Yehudit was killed by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, and we didn’t manage to reach her in time,” he said.
Hamas published a video this week purporting to show Corporal Marciano dead. The Israeli military had earlier confirmed her death.
Hamas has released four Israeli hostages, and Israeli troops rescued a 19-year-old Israeli soldier last month. Negotiations are underway for the release of 50 hostages, in exchange for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and a cessation of hostilities for several days, according to Israeli officials.
Israeli troops transferred Ms. Weiss’s body to Israel for forensic testing by health officials, who confirmed her identity, the military said. Her husband, Shmulik Weiss, was killed in the Oct. 7 attack, Admiral Hagari said.
Their community, Be’eri, a close-knit kibbutz of about 1,000 residents, was devastated in the attack, with at least 86 killed, according to the kibbutz administration. Roughly 25 remain missing, and many of those are believed to have been abducted.
In a video statement after her kidnapping, Ms. Weiss’s family said that she and Mr. Weiss had ceased responding to messages after around 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 7. Both of their phones were later traced to Gaza, said their son Ohad.
“We had so much hope that Mom would come back,” another of their sons, Omer, told reporters on Thursday night after learning of his mother’s death. “We wished for it and we hoped. Sadly, it was too late for us — but perhaps for the rest of the families, it’s not.”