Israeli authorities have said that a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman named Shani Louk, abducted by the Palestinian armed group Hamas during an attack on southern Israel, is dead.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a social media post on Monday that it had confirmed the death of Louk, snatched at a music festival where Hamas fighters killed more than 200 people.
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“Our hearts are broken,” the social media post reads, adding that Louk had been “paraded” around Gaza.
“May her memory be a blessing.”
The circumstances of Louk’s death were not immediately clear.
Louk’s sister Adi spoke of her “great sorrow” as she shared the news of Shani’s death on Instagram.
Speaking with the German outlet RTL/nt-v, Shani’s mother Ricarda Louk said that the body of her daughter had not been found, but a piece of her skull with matching DNA had been recovered.
Ricarda said that she believes her daughter has been dead since the assault on October 7, in which Hamas killed more than 1,400 people. The mother said that she believes her daughter was possibly shot in the head.
“At least she didn’t suffer,” she told RTL/n-tv.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the news of Louk’s death was “terrible” and showed the need to hold Hamas to account.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas.
The October 7 attack saw hundreds of Hamas fighters break through the Israeli security barrier around the besieged Gaza Strip and enter a series of towns in southern Israel, killing entire families, including women and children.
“What we saw on the Gaza-Israel border goes far beyond a pogrom. We saw a slaughterhouse,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog told Germany’s Bild newspaper in an interview in which he confirmed Louk’s death.
More than 220 people, including Israelis and foreigners, were also taken captive in the attack.
Since the attack, Israel has carried out a devastating campaign of air raids on Gaza, which it has placed under total siege, cutting off access to water, electricity, food and fuel.
Family members of those held captive have pleaded for their return and human rights groups and the United Nations have also called for the immediate release of the hostages.
On Monday, Hamas released footage that purports to show three captive women delivering a brief statement in which they blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the October 7 attack and call for a prisoner exchange to secure their release.
“She [one of the captives] blamed him [Netanyahu] for the failure of the October 7 attack, from preventing it from happening, for saying that no army was present, no one came to help us,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Sara Khairat.
Statements offered by people being held captive are often given under duress. Netanyahu denounced the video as “cruel psychological propaganda” in a response on Monday.