Shani Louk's mother reveals agony of false hope

Family's worst fears were realised when Israel confirmed fragments of 22-year-old's skull had been found

Ricarda Louk, mother of Shani Louk, at her home in Srigim-Li On, Israel. Reuters
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Misleading information has extended the pain of families caught up in the October 7 attack in Israel, the mother of German-Israeli victim Shani Louk has said.

Ricarda Louk told how the family had seen what appeared to be their daughter’s body on video but had clung to false hope after being told she might be alive and among the hostages taken into Gaza.

Ms Louk had been attending the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re'im, in southern Israel, when Hamas attacked.

Images seen in the aftermath showed her lying in the back of a pick-up truck as it was being driven to Gaza but it now seems she was already dead.

For three weeks unofficial information from Gaza indicated she might have been alive but badly wounded, the family said.

“This actually gave us the most hope that she’s alive and that she’s there,” Ricarda added.

“If you saw the video, you can imagine how I felt,” she said in comments first reported by The Times newspaper.

“You feel like you’re in a horror movie, when you see your own daughter being transported like this by those barbarian people and everybody celebrating and spitting on her."

Although there had been media speculation that she was dead, Ms Louk's mother said she had believed her daughter was alive.

"We were sent a video in which I could clearly see our daughter unconscious in the car with the Palestinians and them driving around the Gaza Strip," Ricarda said.

But the family's worst fears were realised when the Israeli army confirmed fragments of Ms Louk’s skull had been discovered near the festival site.

“A human being cannot live without this piece they found,” her mother said. “They found it on the Israeli side, so it means it’s from the first day [October 7] — because on that first day, after a few hours, we had already seen a video of her body in the Gaza Strip.

“It’s like you’re in a bad movie and you want to wake up. A bad dream. It’s devastating.”

She also spoke of their fears that they would be left without knowing what had happened to their daughter.

“Worst of all would be that all the hostages come back and she wouldn’t be one of them, and we would wonder all our lives where she is and what happened to her without knowing, maybe ever.

“That would be our worst nightmare we can think of.”

The family is now observing shiva, a week-long mourning period, but they cannot hold a funeral until the body is returned.

The student from Berlin was on holiday in Israel when she attended the event close to the Gaza border.

Updated: November 01, 2023, 11:26 AM