‘She’s with us in our heart and soul’: Family pay tribute to Israeli hostage

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier who was killed in Hamas captivity, after her body was found near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza by Israeli troops.

Cpl Noa Marciano’s mother, Adi, wept over her daughter’s coffin during the service in Modi’in in central Israel on Friday.

She described her daughter as a “girl of music and literature, a girl of dimples and smiles, a girl of love”, and beloved big sister to her three siblings.

Mother of Israeli soldier Corporal Noa Marciano’s reacts during her daughter’s funeral after her remains were recovered near the Al-Shifa hospital during the ongoing Israeli ground operation in Gaza (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on Friday that Cpl Marciano’s body was found and retrieved a day earlier from a building adjacent to Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, following intelligence provided by the Shin Bet security agency.

It came just days after Israel confirmed her death, when Hamas published a video purporting to show her body on Monday night.

Cpl Marciano was serving as a lookout at the Nahal Oz kibbutz when Hamas launched its attack on southern Israel on 7 October, when about 1,200 people were killed.

Her cause of death is not known. Hamas claimed she had been killed in an Israeli air strike, while the IDF said evidence suggested she had been killed by the militant group.

Israeli soldiers carry the flag-draped casket of Corporal. Noa Marciano, during her funeral in Modiin, Israel, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The Israeli military said Marciano's body was found in a building near Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip and brought to Israel for identification by the military rabbinate. Marciano is one of three hostages declared dead since October 7. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli soldiers carry the flag-draped casket of Corporal Noa Marciano during her funeral in Modiin, Israel on Friday (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

Ms Marciano said she last spoke to her daughter on the day of the Hamas attack. “In our last phone call you didn’t say ‘What will happen to me, how will I survive?’ but rather ‘What will happen to the new observers who only arrived two days ago?’ That’s what you were thinking of in those moments of terror,” she said in her eulogy.

She added that her daughter always put others first, “with you being last, if at all”.

“Everyone is hurting over your leaving. You left many touches of love behind. You are resting now, but we will not stop. We won’t forget or forgive.”

Ms Marciano thanked “all the soldiers who were there and brought Noa back to me”.

Cpl Marciano’s father, Avi, said: “Now I have an angel named Noa. I promise you that the way you wanted to lead, we will carry on and not stop. I thank you for being a perfect girl. We love you endlessly and will never forget you.”

Cpl Marciano’s sister, Yuval, said she had bought a birthday present for her, which was “waiting in your room, in wrapping”.

She added: “I am proud of you, I am happy you cared, that you did what was good for you, that you danced, sang, and you fulfilled yourself like there was no tomorrow.”

Cpl Marciano was one of about 240 hostages taken by Hamas gunmen during last month’s attack. The Marciano family have led calls for the return of the abductees, with relatives of hostages embarking on a five-day march from Tel Aviv to the Israeli prime minister’s office in Jerusalem demanding the secure release of their loved ones.

The IDF said its soldiers also found the body of 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss in a house near Al-Shifa hospital on Thursday. Ms Weiss was kidnapped by Hamas from her home in Be’eri near the Gaza border in last month’s attack.