A 65-year-old Israeli woman who was kidnapped by Hamas militants on October 7 has been found dead near Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, the Israeli military said Thursday.
The body of Yehudit Weiss, a resident of kibbutz Be’eri, was found by Israeli soldiers in Gaza City and brought back to Israel, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement.
The statement did not detail how or when she had been killed, but said military, medical and rabbinate personnel had identified the body and informed her family.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised news briefing that Hamas had killed Weiss. He did not offer further details of the precise cause of her death.
“Unfortunately, Yehudit was murdered by the terrorists in the Gaza Strip, and we didn’t reach her on time,” he said.
“The IDF sends its heartfelt condolences to the family,” the earlier IDF statement said. “The national task before our eyes is to locate the missing and return the abducted persons home.”
Weiss was among more than 200 people taken hostage by Hamas during its terror attack on October 7, when its fighters poured into southern Israel and killed more than 1,200 people. Weiss’s husband, Shmuel, was among those killed.
The IDF said her body had been recovered from what it called a “structure” near to the Al-Shifa hospital, where the IDF on Wednesday launched what it called a “precise and targeted” operation against Hamas, which it says has been using the hospital for military purposes.
Hamas and hospital officials have consistently rejected Israel’s claims that Hamas has built a command center under the hospital.
The IDF also claimed in its statement that “in the structure in which Yehudit was located, military equipment including Kalashnikov rifles and RPGs were also found.”
The Israeli military also said Thursday that it had found an “operational tunnel shaft” inside the Shifa hospital complex and published a statement that included a photo and video purporting to show it.
Israel is under significant international pressure to prove its claims about Hamas’ infiltration of the hospital, in order to justify some of its military decisions, which could otherwise constitute a possible serious violation of international humanitarian law.
Kibbutz Be’eri lies just a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip and its liberal community has been a frequent target of Hamas rockets fired from the enclave – usually intercepted by Israeli defenses.
But the kibbutz became the site of a massacre on October 7, as Hamas militants breached the compound and murdered more than 120 of its residents, including children, and kidnapped others.
The Hostages and Missing Person’s Families Forum, a group established by the families of those abducted by Hamas, said Weiss was a 65-year-old grandmother.
This is a developing story and will be updated.