A 23-year-old German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival by Hamas militants on October 7 has been found dead, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
“We are devastated to share that the body of 23 year old German-Israeli Shani (Louk) was found and identified,” the ministry posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.
Louk was attending the festival in southern Israel on October 7 when Hamas breached the border between Gaza and Israel.
Louk was kidnapped at the festival and “tortured and paraded around Gaza by Hamas terrorists,” the foreign ministry statement said, adding that she “experienced unfathomable horrors.”
“May her memory be a blessing,” the statement said.
Militants blocked off the road to the festival from the north and the south during their October 7 attack, before swarming the sprawling site on foot, videos from the site showed.
They then encircled the crowds on three sides, gunning them down and forcing them to flee over fields to the east.
Ricarda Louk, Shani’s mother, told CNN earlier this month that she last spoke to her daughter after hearing rockets and alarms sounding in southern Israel, calling to see if she’d made it to a secure location. Shani told her mother she was at the festival with few places to hide.
“She was going to her car and they had military people standing by the cars and were shooting so people couldn’t reach their cars, even to go away. And that’s when they took her,” Ricarda told CNN, adding that she hoped to see her daughter again, but that the situation appeared bleak.
“It looks very bad, but I still have hope. I hope that they don’t take bodies for negotiations. I hope that she’s still alive somewhere. We don’t have anything else to hope for, so I try to believe,” she said.
More than 260 bodies were found at the Nova festival site itself, according to Israeli rescue service Zaka but, based on CNN’s analysis, the total death toll could be even higher.
The body of Louk, a dual Israeli-German citizen, was seen on video seemingly unconscious on the back of a Hamas truck after the music festival attack.
“After the video, you saw that, it’s impossible to see if she’s alive or dead. It was very scary, and we were very worried,” Louk’s mother told CNN in the days after the rampage.
Her mother added that she had sought support from the German government in helping free her daughter. “I don’t understand really how such a brutal thing can just happen in the middle of the day and it was a complete surprise,” Louk said.
A number of hostages were also taken back to Gaza. The latest figure of hostages believed to be held by Hamas in the enclave is up to 239, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Sunday.
Four hostages have been released – an American woman and her daughter, and later an 85-year-old Israeli woman and her 79-year-old friend.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from the families of hostages for a “comprehensive deal” to ensure their release. These calls are becoming more urgent amid concerns for what Israel’s expanding ground operations could mean for the safety of hostages trapped in Gaza.