3 recovered hostages laid to rest in Israel, 7 months after they were slain by Hamas

Mourners pay their respects to Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Itzhak Gelerenter, with funeral for Ron Benjamin set for Monday

Mourners attend the funeral of Shani Louk in Srigim, on May 19, 2024, two days after her body was recovered from Gaza by the IDF. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Mourners attend the funeral of Shani Louk in Srigim, on May 19, 2024, two days after her body was recovered from Gaza by the IDF. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Funerals were held on Sunday for three of the four hostages whose bodies were recovered by IDF troops this weekend from the Gaza Strip, more than seven months after they were killed.

Shani Louk was laid to rest in Srigim, Amit Buskila was buried in Kiryat Gat and Itzhak Gelerenter’s funeral was held in Kibbutz Palmahim. The funeral for Ron Benjamin is slated for Monday in Kibbutz Palmahim.

All four of the hostages were murdered on October 7 and their bodies kidnapped to Gaza by Hamas terrorists, according to the IDF. The death of Louk had been confirmed by the military back in October, but the fate of the other three hostages was unknown until this weekend. Louk, Buskila and Gelerenter had all been at the Supernova music festival that day, while Benjamin was out on an early morning bike ride.

In the small town of Srigim, south of Beit Shemesh, loved ones paid their respects to Louk, 22, a German-Israeli dual national who became an icon of the Hamas massacre after a video, broadcast on October 7 and attributed to the terror group, showed her body on the back of a white pickup truck, her hair matted with blood. She was surrounded by gunmen and paraded through Gaza.

At the funeral, her mother, Ricarda, said “I didn’t believe they’d be able to bring her body back, and it was a relief when the army informed us that they’d found her body and that it was complete.”

Shani spent most of her life on the moshav, Ricarda Louk continued, where she enjoyed nature, learned to dance and sew her clothes, and developed her unique dress style. As a teenager, she felt different from others. She studied art in Jerusalem, and graphic design in Jaffa, going on to learn tattooing. During the year before her death, she traveled widely overseas, attending many festivals.

Clockwise from top left, the four hostages whose bodies were recovered by the IDF from the Gaza Strip on May 17, 2024: Ron Benjamin, Shani Louk, Itzhak Gelerenter and Amit Bouskila. (Courtesy)

According to her mother, “Once she said, ‘There are no bad people, just people for whom things are bad.'” Friends attending the funeral wore T-shirts with the words “When we dance, we pray,” with one of them telling The Times of Israel: “That’s what Shani always said.”

Shani attended the rave with her boyfriend, Orión Hernández Radoux, a Mexican national who is believed to currently be held hostage in the Strip.

Louk’s father, Nissim, told mourners that he was sorry he couldn’t protect Shani, who had reassured her parents that the party would be well secured.

“We didn’t know the size of the danger,” he said. For thousands of years the Jewish people had known how to fight and defend the small Land of Israel, he went on.

“We did everything to achieve peace, but that has now passed,” he said. “Our leadership repeats the same mistakes, without learning. [Albert] Einstein once said that only a fool does the same thing again and again, and expects that the result will be different each time. If we continue to make the same mistakes of the last few decades, we will likely lose our country.”

Family members of Shani Louk mourn next to her flag-covered coffin during her funeral in Srigim, May 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

President Isaac Herzog sent a message to the funeral apologizing that he could not be present, and noting that Nissim Louk’s father, Amram — a former head of the Beit Shemesh local council — had been close to his own father, Chaim Herzog, a former president of Israel. Having visited the family, he said he had learned about a young woman full of life and creativity, who was funny, surrounded by friends, and always at the center of social events.

The eulogies ended with a song called “Home,” which Louk had written, and included the words, “I don’t want war.”

At Buskila’s funeral in Kiryat Gat, thousands turned out to pay their respects to the young fashion stylist, who was murdered by Hamas on October 7.

Family and friends attend the funeral of Amit Buskila in Kiryat Gat, May 19, 2024. (Liron Moldovan/Flash90)

Amit’s mother, Ilana Buskila, cried at the funeral: “I prayed for a different ending to the torment I’ve been through,” she said.

“I was lucky to have you for 28 years,” she continued. “You wrapped me in love, you were my inspiration… you entered the hearts of the people of Israel.”

Her father, Meir, pointed out “how many people came to your funeral, not to your wedding… Amit, my daughter, you paid with your life the price for the State of Israel,” he said. “You are in a good world now, and you have left us shattered.”

Amit’s brother, Siel, said that she was “the light, the sun, she had courage and bravery, I was proud of your strength, my beloved little sister… you dreamed of conquering the world, but now your bed is made up and empty. The mirror in your room will not see your face. The pots in the kitchen will not feel the warmth of your hands. You were killed for being Jewish.”

Family and friends attend the funeral of Amit Buskila in Kiryat Gat, May 19, 2024. (Liron Moldovan/Flash90)

The Gelerenter family requested that the media not cover Itzhak’s funeral.

Speaking to Army Radio on Sunday morning, Itzhak’s brother, Itay Gelerenter, said that “we understood, truthfully, that we can be comforted by [the fact that] we have a grave, we have somewhere to cry, somewhere to fall apart.”

His daughter, Yarden Pivko, told 103FM radio on Sunday that “we are grateful for the opportunity to say goodbye properly. There is comfort in that.. this is the first time I have said ‘good morning’ since October 7, specifically on the day of my father’s funeral, because the lack of knowledge [about him] has been too heavy a weight to walk around with and live with.”

Pivko described her father as a “smiling person, witty, with a sense of humor, the first dad to show up when called, a wonderful grandfather — as much as he was macho and strong and tough, with my daughters he was like butter. All his tenderness emerged. He was a wonderful person, a good friend, he totally loved life.”

With the recovery of the four hostage’s bodies on Friday, it is believed that 124 people abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza, with the deaths of 37 of them confirmed by Israeli authorities.

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