Israeli soldiers located and recovered the body of Yehudit Weiss, 65, from a building near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Hamas terrorists kidnapped Weiss during their Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in southwestern Israel. Some 240 hostages of all ages were also captured and taken back to the Palestinian enclave.
IDF troops found the body, along with Hamas weapons, including RPGs.
Weiss’s body was identified in Israel, after which the military notified her family.
“Yehudit was murdered by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. We didn’t get to her in time,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told local media at a press briefing on Thursday night.
“The IDF sends its heartfelt condolences to the family. The national mission … is to locate the missing and return them home,” said Hagari. “We will not stop pursuing the mission until it is completed.”
Earlier on Thursday, Dr. Muhammad Abu-Salamiyyah, director of Shifa, told Al Jazeera that “the IDF forces collected bodies from the hospital.”
Asked about the claim at the press conference, Hagari said: “We are working in Shifa Hospital for 48 hours. It’s a complex operation. It’s a large complex.
“In the operation, we found underground [infrastructure], weapons and we found information relating to the hostages. Next to the hospital, we found Yehudit Weiss,” he said.
“We will continue to update when we have confirmed information on all the additional achievements of the operation, and we hope for additional achievements,” Hagari concluded. “Until then, we must wait and be patient.”
In a statement provided to JNS, the IDF said, “The body of Yehudit Weiss, who was abducted by the Hamas terrorist organization, was extracted by IDF troops from a structure adjacent to the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip and was transferred to Israeli territory. In the structure in which Yehudit was located, military equipment including Kalashnikov rifles and RPG’s were also found.
“Following an identification process that was conducted by military medical and rabbinate personnel, together with the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Israel Police, today (Thursday), IDF and Israel Police representatives informed the family of Yehudit Weiss, who was abducted from her home in Be’eri on October 7th by the Hamas terrorist organization, that she has been declared dead.
“The IDF sends its heartfelt condolences to the family.
“The national task before our eyes is to locate the missing and return the abducted persons home. The IDF is operating alongside and in full coordination with the relevant national and security institutions in order to pursue these tasks. We will not cease from the mission until it will be completed.”
A mother of five, Weiss was abducted from Kibbutz Be’eri. Her husband, Shmulik Weiss, was murdered in the safe room of their home.
An estimated 10% of Be’eri’s 1,100 residents were killed and an equal number were kidnapped.
Weiss worked with kindergarteners and was receiving radiation therapy to treat breast cancer.
‘Intelligence about the hostages’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News on Thursday that Jerusalem has “strong indications” that Hamas kept the hostages captured on Oct. 7 at its command base in Shifa, citing it as one of the reasons why the IDF entered the compound.
“If they were [kept at Shifa], they were taken out. We have intelligence about the hostages, but again … I think, the less I say about it, the better,” he added.
During its operation in Shifa, the IDF found photos of hostages, it revealed on Thursday. One laptop found at the hospital had as a wallpaper a publicly available image of Pvt. Ori Megidish from before she was taken to the Gaza Strip.
Megidish was among the more than 240 people taken hostage by Hamas during the terrorist group’s cross-border invasion, which left at least 1,200 people dead and thousands wounded.
The soldier was freed by IDF special forces late last month. Though other members of her unit were also taken hostage, Megidish is believed to have been held alone.
The IDF added that its latest discovery proves a connection between Hamas activity in Shifa Hospital and the hostages, in addition to “new findings” pointing towards a network of terror tunnels under the medical complex.