Hostages Family Forum: 'Another heartbreak'

IDF recovers bodies of three hostages from north Gaza; all were killed on October 7

Military says it recently got intel confirming Orión Hernández Radoux, Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum were kidnapped near Mefalsim, murdered there or en route to Gaza in Hamas onslaught

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

L-R:  Hostages Michel Nisenbaum, Orion Hernandez, Hanan Yablonka. Their bodies were recovered from northern Gaza's Jabaliya in an operation announced May 24, 2024. (Courtesy)
L-R: Hostages Michel Nisenbaum, Orion Hernandez, Hanan Yablonka. Their bodies were recovered from northern Gaza's Jabaliya in an operation announced May 24, 2024. (Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces recovered the bodies of three more hostages from the northern Gaza Strip in an overnight operation, the military announced Friday morning.

Orión Hernández Radoux, 30, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Michel Nisenbaum, 59, were all killed on October 7, according to “reliable intelligence” discovered in the past week amid fighting in Gaza, the military said. Until recently, there had been no information as to their status, as such they were believed to be alive.

The three were kidnapped from the Mefalsim area, according to the IDF, at the same location where Hamas terrorists murdered and abducted four more hostages whose bodies were recovered last week from a tunnel in Jabaliya.

Radoux, a Mexican-French national, was the boyfriend of Shani Louk, one of the four hostages whose bodies were found in Jabaliya last week. Hernández Radoux and Yablonka — along with Louk and two more hostage bodies recovered last week — were at the Supernova music festival near the border community of Re’im when it was attacked by Hamas terrorists.

They had fled to the Mefalsim area where they were abducted by the terrorists.

Nisenbaum, from Sderot, was also kidnapped from the Mefalsim area with the other hostages. He had been driving to the IDF’s Gaza Division base near Re’im to collect his granddaughter who had been staying with his non-commissioned officer son-in-law, but he never made it.

A car destroyed in an attack by Palestinian terrorists is seen in Sderot, Israel, on October 7, 2023. (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

The IDF said the bodies of the three hostages were recovered in a joint operation carried out by the military and Shin Bet security agency in Jabaliya, following the analysis of “precise intelligence” that had been obtained in recent days in Gaza.

According to the IDF’s intelligence, the three were killed on the morning of October 7, either at Mefalsim or en route to Jabaliya in northern Gaza a short while later. The intelligence also led the military to the location where the bodies were held.

The overnight operation was carried out by the 98th Division and special forces, including the Yahalom combat engineering unit, the Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 504, other elite intelligence forces, and Shin Bet agents, the IDF said.

After the bodies were brought back to Israel and identified at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute overnight, their families were notified by military representatives, the IDF added.

IDF troops of the 460th Armored Brigade operate in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, in a handout image published on May 21, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Following the news of the recovery of the hostages, 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 sorrowful return of Michel, Hanan, and Orión is another heartbreak for the 125 families of the hostages, who share the pain, sorrow, and endless worry. Their return for burial provides important closure for the family members, and efforts must be made to bring all the murdered hostages back to Israel,” the forum said.

“The recovery of their bodies is a silent but resolute reminder that the State of Israel is obligated to immediately dispatch negotiation teams with a clear demand to bring about a deal that will swiftly return all the hostages home: the living for rehabilitation and the murdered for burial,” the statement added.

Nisenbaum, originally from Niterói, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, had resided in Israel since 1988 after making aliyah.

The forum said he “was a man of many talents who, alongside his work, also volunteered for Magen David Adom and the Border Police.”

Relatives of Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terror group carry a picture of Michel Nisenbaum, 59, in Kibbutz Nirim near the Gaza border, on January 11, 2024. (Jack Guez / AFP)

Yablonka, from Tel Aviv, divorced and with two kids, ages 12 and 9, was attending the Nova festival with friends.

“Hanan was a devoted and loving father, a family man and friend. He was a sports enthusiast and an avid fan of Hapoel Tel Aviv. Hanan was taken hostage while doing what he loved most – enjoying music, dancing, and celebrating life,” the forum said.

A woman wearing a sticker with the number 202 over her mouth, marking the number of days hostages have been held in the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists since the October 7 onslaught, holds a sign identifying hostage Hanan Yablonka, during a demonstration by the families of hostages and their supporters outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv on April 25, 2024, (Jack Guez / AFP)

Radoux, from Mexico, a father to a young daughter, was attending the Nova rave with his partner, Louk, and their friend Keshet Casarotti, who was also murdered on October 7.

The forum said Radoux “had a deep love for music and dancing, worked as a music producer and visited music festivals around the world.”

Orion Hernandez, right, pictured here with his girlfriend, Shani Louk, was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists from the Supernova desert rave on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

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 now believed that 121 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 37 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and her fate is still unknown, though her family believes she was killed.

Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

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