IDF announces recovery of body of Ron Benjamin from Gaza, says he was killed on Oct. 7

53-year-old father of two was slain by Hamas near Mefalsim; the body was returned to Israel Thursday along with three others previously announced

Ron Benjamin was killed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and his body was taken to Gaza. On May 18, 2024, the IDF announced it had recovered his remains in an overnight operation. (Courtesy)
Ron Benjamin was killed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and his body was taken to Gaza. On May 18, 2024, the IDF announced it had recovered his remains in an overnight operation. (Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces announced on Saturday evening that soldiers had recovered the body of an additional hostage from the Gaza Strip, after the announcement the previous day that three slain captives had been returned in a special mission.

The hostage was named as Ron Benjamin, 53, who was abducted by Hamas terrorists on the morning of October 7 while returning home from a planned bike ride near the Gaza border, which he canceled when rocket sirens sounded at 6:30 a.m. as Hamas’s attack began.

It is now known that Benjamin was killed near Kibbutz Mefalsim on the day of the attack, and his body was taken to Gaza, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a statement to the press.

His body was recovered during an overnight operation on Thursday, along with the bodies of Itzhak Gelernter, Amit Buskila, and Shani Louk, all of whom the IDF said were killed by Hamas inside Israel on October 7, and their bodies abducted. All four were recovered in northern Gaza, according to the IDF.

The efforts to recover their bodies had “been ongoing for a long time,” Hagari said on Friday, and some of the intelligence for the operation came from Palestinian terror suspects captured by the IDF and interrogated by the Shin Bet.

The military had not initially planned to announce the recovery of three hostages on Friday, as it had preferred to wait until the operation concluded. However, due to a flurry of rumors spreading on social media about the operation, it was decided to release some information, including the names of the hostages found.

From left to right: Itzhak Gelernter, Amit Buskila, and Shani Louk. (Courtesy)

Until recently, Benjamin, like Gelernter and Buskila, had been presumed to be alive, while Louk had been confirmed dead in late October after a piece of her skull was identified following widely shared footage of terrorists kidnapping her.

On the morning of October 7, Benjamin set out to meet up with friends for a bike ride near Kibbutz Be’eri, but amid the cascading rockets, he decided to turn around and head home to Rehovot. He spoke with his wife, Ayelet, and at 7:30 a.m. he left a message for one of his two daughters. He never returned home.

For two months following the October 7 attacks, Benjamin was considered missing, and his family was told they may never find out what happened to him, as there were no initial leads on whether he had been killed or abducted. On December 2, however, the IDF informed the family that he was indeed taken to Gaza.

Last week, amid rehearsals for the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony, Benjamin’s daughter, Shai Benjamin, handcuffed herself to the gates of Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery in protest of the event.

“It seems absurd to me to hold a ceremony celebrating the State of Israel when there are 132 hostages in Gaza whom the country is abandoning right now,” she said. “My father has not seen the light of day for seven months.”

Following the news of Benjamin’s death, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum issued a statement calling for the government to do everything in its power to facilitate the return of those still captive in Gaza.

The hostages “have been waiting to be rescued and returned to Israel for 225 long days and nights,” the forum said in a post on social media. “The Israeli government must focus on the only task that matters, send out a negotiating team this very day and fight for their return home — for the living to be rehabilitated and for the deceased to be buried with dignity, as was possible for Ron Benjamin this evening.

“Ron, husband to Ayelet and father to Shai and Gil, was a family man,” the Forum said. “He loved traveling in Israel and around the world, and he loved music.”

The hostages were seized on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas and free the hostages, with the war now in its eighth month.

It is believed that 124 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive.

Most Popular
read more: