IDF says remains of recovered hostages show they were not killed in strike

Doctors unable to determine exact cause of death of Ron Sherman and Nik Beizer, families told; Maayan Sherman claims her son was poisoned by IDF gas bomb, blaming government

Left to right: Elia Toledano, Cpl. Nik Beizer, Sgt. Ron Sherman, taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. Their bodies were recovered by the IDF and returned to Israel on December 15, 2023. (Courtesy)

Two soldiers whose bodies were recovered after they were kidnapped and held hostage in Gaza were not killed by direct military action, the IDF said Wednesday, refuting a Hamas claim that the pair were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The bodies of Sgt. Ron Sherman, 19, and Cpl. Nik Beizer, along with civilian Elia Toledano, 28, all of whom were kidnapped on October 7, were recovered from a Hamas tunnel in Jabaliya on December 14.

On Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces representatives presented the families of Sherman and Beizer with a pathology report showing that their bodies had no signs of trauma or gunfire, indicating that they were not killed directly by an airstrike or other IDF action.

Due to the condition of the bodies, medical officials have so far been unable to determine a cause of death.

The families were also given findings from the operation in which the remains were recovered.

In November, the IDF carried out an airstrike near the location where the bodies were found, targeting the commander of Hamas’s Northern Gaza Brigade, Ahmed Ghandour, who was hiding in a tunnel.

A Hamas propaganda video released a week after Sherman, Beizer, and Toledano were found showed the three and claimed they had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The IDF’s investigation, presented to the families, found that the military was not aware of hostages being held in the area when the strike on the tunnel was carried out.

The bodies were found during scans of the tunnel, without any prior intelligence, according to the IDF’s findings.

File: A screenshot from a video of a large Hamas tunnel network found in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya camp and revealed by the IDF on December 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Two days before they were recovered, the bodies of Warrant Officer Ziv Dado and civilian Eden Zacharia, who were murdered on October 7, were found in the same area.

At this stage, the military cannot confirm or deny that they may have suffocated, been strangled, poisoned, or another cause indirectly related to an IDF attack or Hamas action, it said.

Toxicology tests, which may shed light on their cause of death, have yet to be completed.

Sherman’s mother, Dr. Maayan Sherman, a veterinarian, claimed that the results of the report suggested he was murdered by poison gas allegedly used by the IDF in the tunnels, accusing the government of knowingly putting the hostages at risk.

“Not by Hamas, think more in the direction of Auschwitz and the showers but without Nazis and without Hamas. Not by accidental fire, not by friendly fire, but premeditated murder: bombs with poison gas,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

“There is no future for this country if this is what they did to you after they abandoned you that Shabbat,” she wrote, referring to October 7. “What would have been the decision if it was Bibi’s [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] son there in the terrorists’ tunnels, or the grandson of [Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant? Or the son of [IDF Chief of Staff] Herzi Halevi. Would they also have been poisoned by gas bombs?”

File: Alex and Maayan Sherman, the parents of captured soldier Ron Sherman, attend a rally in Tel Aviv calling for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas, November 11, 2023. (Melanie Lidman/The Times of Israel)

She recalled seeing the “terrified look” of her son’s face in the video showing his abduction and blamed the “criminal negligence of a government of powerful degenerates” for the mass kidnapping on October 7.

Daniel Toledano, Elia Toledano’s older brother, told Channel 12 that their family had heard about the findings through the media. It is “clear they don’t know the cause of death,” he said, expressing interest in seeing the results of the investigation.

“Even if Elia died in his sleep, it is still under the responsibility of Hamas,” he said.

Beizer and Sherman served in the IDF’s Gaza District Coordination and Liaison, which coordinates permits and the passage of goods through the Erez Crossing into Gaza.

Hamas terrorists seized control of the Erez Crossing on October 7, as they invaded Israeli communities near the Gaza border, massacring some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped over 240 others. While most of the victims were civilians, they also included hundreds of troops.

Toledano was kidnapped from the Supernova festival with friend Mia Schem, 21, who was released on December 1 as part of a temporary truce deal during which 105 civilian hostages were released.

It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 27 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also 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.

Israel’s actions against Hamas have resulted in 24,000 deaths in Gaza, according to unverified statistics provided by Hamas medical authorities in Gaza that include its own terror operatives and victims of failed rocket launches at Israel. Israel says it has killed some 9,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza and blames Hamas for the deaths of noncombatants the terror group uses as human shields.

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