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US lawmakers, Jewish groups mourn death of three Israeli hostages

“The celebration of hatred and the desecration committed by Palestinian civilian males should serve as a reminder to the world of what Israel faces and must destroy,” said Michael Pregent of the Hudson Institute.

Memorial candle. credit: Manfred Richter/Pixabay.
Memorial candle. credit: Manfred Richter/Pixabay.

Jewish organizations, policymakers and scholars with expertise on the Middle East offered condolences and reflections on Friday, just hours after the Israel Defense Forces announced that it had recovered the bodies of Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Yitzhak Gelerenter in a joint overnight operation with the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet).

Terrorists killed all three, who had been at the Nova music festival, on Oct. 7 before taking their bodies hostage and transporting them to Gaza, the IDF said.

“Israel’s recovery of the bodies of murdered hostages is a reminder: This is a fight between good and evil,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). He added that U.S. President Joe Biden “is dead wrong to demand Israel leave Hamas in power.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told JNS that he is “devastated to learn of the three Israeli hostages whose bodies were recovered by the IDF earlier today” and is praying for their families and loved ones.

“This tragedy reminds us of the atrocities that Hamas terrorists committed on Oct. 7,” the N.J. Democrat told JNS. “We can and must do more every day to bring the remaining hostages, including Americans like my 20-year-old constituent Edan Alexander, home.”

“Our hearts are heavy with news that Israel found the bodies of three more hostages murdered by Hamas,” wrote Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio). “Israel defends its people and existence. Hamas terrorists are murderers and rapists. There is no moral equivalence.”

Yitzhak Gelerenter
Yitzhak Gelerenter, 56. Credit: Courtesy of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told JNS that his heart is with the families of the three victims.

“All three Israelis were brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct 7, and their bodies were held captive in the dark tunnels of Gaza,” Greenblatt told JNS. “They’ve now been brought home where they can rest eternally. May their memory be a blessing.”

The Jewish Federations of North America told JNS in a statement that the umbrella group “expresses its deepest sympathies to the grieving families” and extends “our heartfelt gratitude to the IDF soldiers who brought them home.”

The American Jewish Committee stated it was “devastated” to learn that the three Israelis had been murdered on Oct. 7.

“Their bodies were taken into Gaza and held for 223 days,” the AJC said. “The IDF recovered their bodies in a heroic operation and brought them back home to rest.”

Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, told JNS that the “tragic achievement illustrates the stark contrast between the brutality of the murderers and rapists of Hamas and the compassion and values of the Israel Defense Forces.”

“One parades its victims in front of cheering crowds, consistent with its utter disregard for the lives of both its enemies and its own,” he said. “The other deploys its every capacity to restore dignity and peace to the victims and their grieving families. Our hearts are both broken in grief and swollen with pride.”

Oct. 7
Shani Louk. Photo by Uri Lidor/Courtesy of the Louk family.

‘Such evil disregard for human life’

Michael Pregent, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told JNS that the bodies of the hostages are now home “after one of the most brutal and disrespectful acts ever committed by military-aged-males captured in real-time and burnt into our minds that such evil disregard for human life exists.”

“The celebration of hatred and the desecration committed by Palestinian civilian males should serve as a reminder to the world of what Israel faces and must destroy,” Pregent said.

Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, told JNS that “this inhuman, heartless barbarism by Palestinian Arabs, Hamas and Fatah Nazis makes it crystal clear that we dare not allow a state run by people who elected terrorist dictators Hamas and Abbas.” 

“A state will only give more power to these despicable terrorists to commit more atrocities,” he added, urging American Jewish organizations to “immediately, publicly oppose a Palestinian state.”

Amit Esther Buskila
Amit Buskila, 28. Credit: Courtesy of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

StandWithUs posted on X that it is “heartbroken” learning that the hostages are dead. “May their memories forever be a blessing.”

Rabbi Nicole Guzik, one of two senior rabbis at Sinai Temple, a Conservative synagogue in Los Angeles, told JNS that “Hamas’s evil has no limits” and the terrorist group “must be held accountable.”

“While it is heart-wrenching that these hostages were found deceased, it is also comforting to know their bodies will be laid to rest with the utmost respect, care and honor, one of Judaism’s highest principles,” Guzik said.

‘Information from servers and other equipment’

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Amir Avivi, chairman and founder of Israel Defense and Security Forum, told JNS that the only ground maneuvers enable Israel “to get the intelligence needed to understand where the hostages are and operate to release them.”

“The best intelligence is human intelligence the IDF gets from arrested terrorists,” he said.

Avivi told JNS that the United States was not involved, despite reports days ago that Washington was offering Israel intelligence about the location of Hamas terrorists in exchange for Israel avoiding a major Rafah operation.

“The intelligence was based on interrogations of captured terrorists that were interrogated by the Shin Bet,” said Avivi. “Israel also managed to get a lot of information from servers and other equipment found in [Hamas’s] headquarters underground.”

“It’s interesting to see that the best intelligence Israel is getting in the war comes from the sources that were the most disregarded before the war,” he added. “Human intelligence, seized equipment and loot.“

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