Israel-Hamas war: Army recovers body of hostage in Gaza

French-Israeli hostage Elia Toledano was abducted on October 7 by Hamas. Over 130 hostages are still believed to be held by the Islamist militant group. Follow DW for latest.

Israel-Hamas war: Army recovers body of hostage in Gaza (photo: DW)
Israel-Hamas war: Army recovers body of hostage in Gaza (photo: DW)
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  • Israeli special forces have recovered the body of a hostage in Gaza
  • PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will fight Hamas 'until absolute victory'
  • Israel warns war could take several more months

Israeli special forces recover body of hostage in Gaza

The remains of 28-year-old Elia Toledano were retrieved by Israeli special forces in an operation in Gaza and brought back to Israel, the military said in a statement on Friday.

Medical officials, military rabbis and forensic experts conducted the identification process of the French-Israeli citizen.

"Our national mission is to locate the hostages and return all of them home. We are working together with security agencies, and with all intelligence and operational means in order to return all of the hostages home," the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Toledano was abducted and taken hostage from a music festival in southern Israel during the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas. The militant Islamist group is listed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU and others.

A total of 110 hostages were released by Hamas as part of a truce deal last month. Over 130 hostages are believed to still be in Gaza, with some already declared deceased by Israeli authorities.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that France is in "immense pain" over the news. "We share the grief of his family and loved ones," Colonna said in a post on X.

Key developments on Thursday: Israel to continue war against Hamas 'until absolute victory'

Welcome to our live updates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza for Friday, December 15.

Netanyahu meets US security advisor

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that Israel will continue its war against Hamas "until absolute victory."

"I told our American friends [that] our heroic fighters have not fallen in vain," Netanyahu said according to a statement released by his office. "From the deep pain of their falling, we are more determined than ever to continue to fight until Hamas is eliminated."

Netanyahu and Sullivan discussed regional threats including the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthi rebels, as well as Israel’s efforts to rescue hostages.

According to the White House, Sullivan raised concerns about Israel's tactics in Gaza.

Israel warns war could take several more months

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant later stated that defeating Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by the US, EU and others, could take "several" more months, given their extensive infrastructure.

Meanwhile, telecommunications services in Gaza, including phone and internet, were down on Thursday even as the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza reported a death toll of at least 18,787 Palestinians since October 7 — primarily women and children.

Israel announces 'tactical pauses' in Rafah

Israel on Thursday announced a "tactical pause" in military operations in Rafah to allow in humanitarian aid, such as food and water.

"Today, (Dec.14), the pause is taking place in the Al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, from 10:00 to 14:00," COGAT, the Israeli government agency that handles Palestinian civil affairs, said in a post on X.

This development came as winter rains are compounding the misery of people in Gaza who have already been displaced several times, according to DW's Jerusalem correspondent Rebecca Ritters.

"The situation has been deteriorating for weeks. It has become unlivable. We are talking about half of the area's population now trying to take shelter in the border town of Rafah that’s normally home to around 250,000 people."

ss/rt (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)

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