Israeli military recovers body of grandmother thought to be hostage taken by Hamas

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports from Tel Aviv as Israel has signalled an expansion into southern Gaza

  • The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it's soldiers in Gaza City have recovered the body of a woman taken hostage by Hamas.

  • Residents in southern Gaza said that Israeli forces had conducted leaflet drops on Thursday, telling people to flee. The move has been interpreted as a sign that Tel Aviv is to expand its offensive beyond Gaza City.

  • Paltel, the Palestinian telecoms provider, has said that communications have been wiped out across Gaza because of a lack of fuel.

  • More than 11,300 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war between Israel and proscribed terror group Hamas.

  • At least 1,400 people were killed in Israel, following Hamas' October 7 attack in the south of the country.

Israel's military says it's soldiers in Gaza City have found the body of a woman who was thought to have been taken hostage by Hamas during its October 7 attack.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said on Thursday that it had recovered the remains of 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss "from a structure adjacent to the al-Shifa hospital".

No details of how she died or whether she had been killed were revealed by the statement and it is not clear what condition the structure was in when the soldiers found the body.

Her body has been returned to Israel and her family have been made aware of her death, according to the IDF.

The IDF said it found Yehudit Weiss's body near al-Shifa hospital. Credit: IDF

In recent days, the al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's biggest, has been raided by Israeli soldiers, after Tel Aviv accused proscribed terror group Hamas of basing its command centre underneath the facility.

Hamas has denied the claims and Israel, as of yet, has not produced any evidence to back up its accusations.

Meanwhile, Israel's military has signalled an expansion into southern Gaza, after dropping leaflets urging for an evacuation in parts of the enclave which were once considered "safe zones".

Notices have been dumped near the city of Khan Younis, ordering several neighbourhoods to leave towns, and in a move that echoes similar scenes previously seen in the north of the strip ahead of Israel's ground invasion.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of people who heeded the earlier evacuation orders are crowded into United Nations (UN) run shelters and family homes in the south, with the latest mounting concerns over where they are to go.

Elsewhere, Palestinian telecommunications provider Paltel said on Thursday that all communications across Gaza had been wiped out because of a lack of fuel.

The news follows several instances of telecommunication blackouts since the outset of fighting between Israel and proscribed terror group Hamas.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday the ground operation will eventually "include both the north and south", adding "we will strike Hamas wherever it is".

The military says it has largely consolidated its control of the north, including seizing and demolishing government buildings.

Video released by the army showed soldiers moving between heavily damaged buildings through holes blown in their walls.

Broadening the offensive to the south - where Israel already carries out daily air raids - threatens to worsen an already severe humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory.

If the IDF move south, it is not clear where Gaza's population can flee as Egypt has refused to take on mass migration.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said that Israeli troops are still raiding al-Shifa and have reportedly taken control of several areas.

Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a surgeon who works with MAP, witnessed tanks break into the hospital compound, according to the charity.

The development comes after the IDF released video from inside al-Shifa, showing three duffel bags it said were found hidden around an MRI lab - each containing an assault rifle, grenades and Hamas uniforms as well as a closet that contained a number of assault rifles without ammunition clips.

Al Thawabta, the director of the Gaza Government Media office, rejected Israel's allegations that Hamas equipment was found at the medical centre.

He said Israel failed to present significant evidence despite the "whole world" predicting "that this [Israeli] military was going to show maps of the Hamas command and control centres".

A member of Hamas' political office, Izzat al-Risheg, accused Israel of "staging a shameful play" with the raid, in a statement on Telegram.

Up until the past few days, tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombardment were sheltering at al-Shifa, but most have now left after the fighting drew closer.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 40 patients, including three babies, have died since al-Shifa's emergency generator ran out of fuel over the weekend.

There has been no update on the condition of another 36 babies, who the ministry said were at risk of dying because there is no power for incubators.

Since the conflict between Israel and Hamas started, more than 11,300 Palestinians have been killed - the majority of them women and children - according to Palestinian health authorities.

Another 2,700 have been reported missing, with most believed to be buried under the rubble.

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