Bodies of two Israeli hostages are recovered in Gaza: Woman kidnapped from Nova festival – who asked her father to look after her dogs in final phonecall – is found along with IDF soldier
- Eden Zakaria had travelled to the Nova festival with her boyfriend Ofek Kimchi
- Ziv Dado, 36, was serving as a logistics supervisor in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion
The Israeli army said today that it had recovered during an operation in Gaza the bodies of two hostages taken by Hamas in its October 7 attack.
Following the bodies’ positive identification, authorities ‘informed the families of Eden Zakaria and Ziv Dado that their bodies had been recovered and returned to Israel,’ the army said in a statement.
Zecharya, 28, had travelled to the Nova festival with her boyfriend Ofek Kimchi, 23, who was killed in the attack.
Dado, 36, served as a logistics supervisor in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion and fell during the October 7 onslaught, but Israel considers those still held by Hamas to be hostages regardless of whether they are dead or alive.
Zecharya spoke to her father and asked him to look after their dogs in a final phone call while the festival was under fire.
Eden Zakaria, 28, had travelled to the Nova festival with her boyfriend Ofek Kimchi, 23, who was killed in the attack
Ziv Dado, 36, served as a logistics supervisor in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion and fell during the October 7 onslaught
Kimchi was murdered in the attack and Zecharya was kidnapped while she was suffering with injuries to the upper half of her body, according to a statement from the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which has helped to coordinate relatives’ outreach effort.
Zecharya had two hunting dogs to whom she was deeply attached and had planned to study digital marketing.
Her family was today notified that she was murdered while held captive by Hamas after being kidnapped from the party in Re’im.
The army said that during the operation to recover the bodies, two soldiers ‘fell in battle and additional soldiers were injured’.
Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eisenkot — the son of war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot — and Master Sgt. (res.) Eyal Meir Berkowitz were killed, according to The Times of Israel.
The operation to recover the bodies from the Gaza Strip was performed by the Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 504, and the 551st Brigade.
Israeli troops bring the bodies of Eden Zacharia and First Sgt. Ziv Dado back to Israel from the Gaza Strip, in an image published December 12, 2023
The IDF said: ‘After an identification procedure carried out by medical officials and military rabbis together with the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Israel Police, today (Tuesday) IDF and Israel Police representatives informed the families of Eden Zakaria and (SGM) Ziv Dado, who were taken hostage by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7th, that their bodies had been recovered and returned to Israel.’
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The statement continued: ‘The IDF sends the families its heartfelt condolences and will continue to support them. During the operations that enabled the location of the bodies, IDF soldiers in reserve duty (MSG) Gal Meir Eisenkot and (MSG) Eyal Meir Berkowitz fell in battle and additional soldiers were injured.
‘Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home. We are working together with security agencies, and with all intelligence and operational means in order to return all of the hostages home.’
Before the bodies of Dado and Zecharya were recovered, Israel said it believed 137 hostages were still in Hamas captivity.
Another hostage, Sahar Baruch, was confirmed dead last week after a failed army rescue attempt that left two soldiers wounded.
Under a one-week truce deal that ended on December 1, 105 hostages were released from Gaza, among them 80 Israelis – mostly women and children – freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel.
Efforts to revive the deal have stalled, and Hamas warned on Sunday that no more hostages would leave Gaza alive unless its demands for more prisoner releases were met.
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