A missing 12-year-old Israeli Harry Potter fan whose plight was highlighted by author JK Rowling has been found dead, the country has announced.
Noya Dan – who was autistic – and her 80-year-old grandmother Carmela were among those who went missing when Hamas terrorists attacked on October 7.
Since then, their family has clung to the hope that they were kidnapped rather than killed, found and returned by Israeli forces preparing to launch a ground attack on Hamas and rescue hostages.
However, on Wednesday, the Dan family confirmed in a tragic Facebook post that the bodies of both Noya and Carmela had been identified. Their deaths were later confirmed by Israel’s Foreign Minister.
It is believed that three more members of the Dan family are still missing.
An Israeli Harry Potter fan whose fate was highlighted by author JK Rowling has been found dead, the country has announced. Noya Dan (pictured), a 12-year-old autistic child, and her 80-year-old grandmother Carmela were among those who went missing on October 7
News of Noya’s disappearance prompted Harry Potter author JK Rowling to condemn the Hamas attacks, and in particular the kidnapping of children.
The author shared a photo of Noya in a Harry Potter costume on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday with the caption: “Kidnapping children is despicable and completely unjustifiable. This photo came to me for obvious reasons.
May Noya and all hostages kidnapped by Hamas be returned to their families quickly and safely.”
The photo posted by Rowling showed a grinning Noya, wearing clothing resembling the school uniform of Hogwarts (the wizarding school in Rowling’s books) and the iconic red and yellow tie of Gryffindor (one of the school’s houses ).
She appeared to be dressed as one of the main characters – Hermione Granger – and also had a Hebrew copy in her hands Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the fifth book in the series), as well as a wand.
Israel had earlier posted Noya’s photo on X on Sunday, saying: ‘This beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism was kidnapped from her home by Hamas terrorists and taken to Gaza. Noya is sensitive, friendly, funny and a huge Harry Potter fan.’
The State of Israel’s official X-Report also urged JK Rowling to share Noya’s story in hopes of “bringing her home.”
Rowling’s message touched many, especially fellow Harry Potter fans, and further brought into focus the reality of the brutal terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas, which killed as many as 1,400 people in Israel, many of whom have yet to be identified.
According to Israeli authorities, the terrorists also abducted at least 203 others, including children, and took them to the Gaza Strip to be held as hostages.
The brutal destruction of kibbutzim and other settlements in southern Israel prompted a retaliatory response from the country’s army, which has ruthlessly bombed the Gaza enclave, causing thousands of Palestinian deaths.
On Wednesday, the Dan family confirmed in a tragic post on Facebook that the bodies of both Noya and Carmela (left and right) had been identified. Their deaths were later confirmed by Israel’s Foreign Minister
JK Rowling wrote on Tuesday: ‘May Noya and all hostages kidnapped by Hamas be returned to their families quickly and safely’ after learning that Noya was among those missing after the attack
Noya and her grandmother were captured in Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of several Israeli communities just miles from Gaza that were attacked by Hamas 13 days ago.
According to Israeli news sources, their bodies were found burned near the Israel-Gaza border fence by ZAKA Search and Rescue workers.
Israel has not confirmed where the bodies were found.
The tragic news was first confirmed on Facebook by people close to the family.
‘Today was a difficult day. All kinds of reasons, all kinds of feelings, many tears, many conversations. At the end of the day came some difficult news that we hoped we wouldn’t receive. Carmela Dan and Noya Dan are no longer with us,” Sharon Calderon wrote.
“May they be remembered for love. We continue to fight to bring Ofer and Sahar Varez home,” she added, referring to others who are missing.
Noam Dan, Carmela’s niece, wrote on her Facebook page: ‘It just dawned on us that our beloved family members Noya and Carmela are no longer alive.
‘We are in a lot of pain… we still have three souls to save in the family (and in the country – a huge amount…) so tomorrow we continue. Thanks for the hug. From our hearts that drink with pain and gratitude.’
In a post on X, Israel said: “We are devastated to announce that the bodies of Noya and her grandmother Carmela were discovered yesterday. Thank you to everyone who shared her story to help us bring her home. Our hearts are broken.’
Last week, Noya’s mother shared the heartbreaking last conversation she had with her 12-year-old daughter before the kidnapping.
Mrs. Dan was hiding in a panic room five miles away when Noya sent her a voice message: “Mommy, I’m scared. There are people in the house. Help me.’
Noya hid in the dark at her grandmother Carmela’s house and silently texted each other as explosions broke out around their kibbutz.
They disappeared after Noya sent a panic message.
Noya’s mother, her husband, Noya’s stepfather, and her other daughter Tomal, 9, managed to wait safely in their home in the Kibbutz Kissufim settlement.
Galit Dan (right) said her daughter (left) was kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 when it was attacked by Hamas terrorists
After 10 p.m., the family was evacuated to a resort hotel in the Dead Sea.
Mrs. Dan told me The sun last week: ‘The pain is indescribable. My little girl went to stay with her grandma and messaged us when these animals came for them.
“Our best hope now is that they have been kidnapped and will somehow survive. I am living every parent’s nightmare; every parent in the world will feel our pain.”
Mrs Dan told The Sun that her daughter had autism and was extremely sensitive. She described her daughter as a “very sweet, very funny, very smart girl.” She said her grandmother Carmela was “vulnerable herself.” “What do they hope to achieve by doing this to innocent, helpless people?” she asked Hamas.
News of the tragic deaths of Noya and her grandmother came as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Israel to “express solidarity” with the country.
He will also call to prevent any escalation of violence in the wider region.
Sunak landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday morning, ahead of talks with his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Isaac Herzog.
“Above all, I am here to express my solidarity with the Israeli people. You have suffered an unspeakable, horrific act of terror and I want you to know that Britain and I stand with you,” Sunak told reporters at the scene.
Noya and her grandmother were captured in Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel
As part of a trip, he will urge Middle East leaders to “avoid further dangerous escalation”, saying “too many lives have already been lost” in the conflict.
The visit comes after the US president flew to Israel on Wednesday in a diplomatic bid to prevent the fighting from turning into a wider crisis.
Joe Biden urged Israel not to be ‘consumed by’ anger in the aftermath of the deadly Hamas attack on October 7 and not to make the same ‘mistakes’ as the US made after September 11, 2001, following the Islamist attacks which killed almost 3,000 people.
The president’s trip appeared to mark a breakthrough, with Netanyahu’s office announcing it had approved a request from Biden to allow Egypt to deliver limited amounts of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.