Israeli troops recover slain hostage, thousands protest

Elad Katzir was among 253 people dragged into Gaza during a cross-border rampage by Hamas.

Elad Katzir was among 253 people dragged into Gaza during a cross-border rampage by Hamas. Photo: AAP

Israel says its special forces have recovered the body of a hostage killed while being held captive in Gaza, as thousands of protestors marched in Tel Aviv and other major cities on Saturday.

The protestors are demanding the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling for early elections to be held, CNN reported.

Weeks of protests have demanded a deal to free the dwindling number of live hostages from Hamas’ October 7 cross-border rampage.

Western countries, meanwhile, have voiced outrage over what they see as an unacceptably high Palestinian civilian toll and the accompanying humanitarian crisis.

The body of Elad Katzir, a 47-year-old Israeli farmer, was unearthed by commandos in southern Khan Younis overnight, the military said.

He had been killed by his Palestinian Islamic Jihad captors and buried there in mid-January, it said, citing intelligence information about which it declined to elaborate.

Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas, had no immediate comment.

Katzir was among 253 people dragged into Gaza by Hamas-led gunmen who killed some 1200 others in southern Israel, according to official tallies, sparking an offensive that medics in the enclave say has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians.

His father Avraham was killed in their kibbutz, Nir Oz, and his mother Hanna was also taken hostage but freed in November under a truce.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been to secure another that might return some of the 129 remaining hostages.

In a January 8 video posted by Islamic Jihad online, Katzir said: “I was close to dying more than once. It’s a miracle I’m still alive … I want to tell my family that I love them very much and I miss them very much.”

New talks

Angered by an Israeli air strike that killed aid workers in Gaza, US President Joe Biden on Thursday urged an “immediate ceasefire” and for Israel to boost humanitarian relief measures.

Hamas said it would send a delegation to Cairo on Sunday for a new round of mediated talks. Israel was undecided on whether to attend, an Israeli official said, citing concern that the event would be “more political theatre than actual progress”.

Hamas wants any deal to bring about an end to the war and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel has said that, after any truce, it would topple Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.

Based on various sources of information, Israel has declared at least 35 hostages as dead in Gaza captivity.

Palestinian factions have said some were killed in Israeli strikes.

While confirming this in several cases, Israel says that, in others, hostages whose bodies were recovered bore signs of execution.


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