Israel finds the body of a hostage killed in Gaza, while talks will resume on a cease-fire


CAIRO (AP) — Israel's military said Saturday it had recovered the body of a 47-year-old farmer who was held hostage in Gaza, while negotiators prepared for another round of talks Sunday on brokering a cease-fire and securing the release of the remaining hostages, six months into the war.

Israel's army said it found the body of Elad Katzir and believed he was killed in January by militants with Islamic Jihad, one of the groups that entered southern Israel in the Oct. 7 attack, killed more than 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages. Katzir was abducted from Nir Oz, a border community that suffered some of the heaviest losses.

The discovery renewed pressure on Israel's government for a deal to get the remaining hostages freed, and thousands gathered in Tel Aviv to call for a deal as well as early elections. Hostages' families have long feared time is running out. At least 36 hostages have been confirmed dead. About half of the original number have been released.

“He could have been saved if a deal had happened in time," Katzir’s sister Carmit said in a statement. 

Cease-fire negotiations will resume Sunday, according to an Egyptian official and Egypt’s state-owned Al Qahera TV. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the talks.

U.S. President Joe Biden has sent CIA Director Bill Burns to Egypt. A Hamas delegation will arrive Sunday to join the talks, the militant group said.

Hamas has insisted on linking a phased end to the war to any agreement to release hostages. It has said it will agree to release 40 as part of an initial six-week cease-fire deal that would include the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Hamas also seeks the return of displaced people to devastated northern Gaza and more aid.

Israel has offered to allow 2,000 displaced Palestinians — mainly women, children and older people — to the north daily during a six-week cease-fire.

The talks come days after international condemnation of Israeli airstrikes that killed seven humanitarian workers with the World Central Kitchen charity. The Israeli military described it as a tragic error.

The death toll from the war in Gaza is 33,137, according to claims by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. Its toll doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza, accusing it of operating in residential communities and public areas like hospitals.