The Israeli military said Saturday that it had recovered the body of an Israeli hostage during an overnight raid in the Gaza Strip.

The body of Elad Katzir was returned to Israel after an operation in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, the Israel Defense Forces said.

According to Israeli military intelligence, Katzir died while being held in captivity by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group that took part in the Oct. 7 attacks alongside Hamas, and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Elad Katzir.via the Hostages and Missing Families Forum

The IDF expressed its deepest condolences to the family.

In a Facebook post written in Hebrew, Katzir’s sister, Carmit Palty Katzir, took comfort in the return of her brother’s body, saying “Elad will have a grave in Nir Oz. We will not remain in uncertainty.”

She went on to sharply criticize the IDF and the Israeli government.

“He could have been saved if a deal was reached in time,” Carmit wrote, noting that he was photographed alive twice while in captivity. “Our leadership is cowardly and driven by political considerations and that is why it did not happen.”

Katzir, then 47, was taken hostage by the PIJ on Oct. 7 from Kibbutz Nir Oz, a community near the Gaza border that was among the hardest hit by the Hamas-led attacks.

In December, Katzir appeared in a video released by Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of the PIJ. Katzir pleaded for his release alongside another hostage who identified himself as Gadi Moses.

Katzir’s mother, Hanna Katzir, was also taken hostage and subsequently released on Nov. 24 during the seven-day truce and hostage-prisoner exchange. Katzir’s father, Avraham-Rami Katzir, was killed during the attack on the kibbutz.

Katzir was born and raised in Nir Oz, where he worked on agricultural irrigation, and was the liaison between the kibbutz and the military.

The IDF reiterated that it will continue to locate and return the remaining 130 or so hostages in Gaza “until the task is complete.”

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