On Saturday, thousands witnessed a massacre at an Israeli music festival where Hamas fighters killed at least 260 people and took captives back into Gaza.
Here is what to know:
What happened and when?
- About 3,500 young people attended the Supernova music festival, which became one of the first targets of Palestinian gunmen who breached Gaza’s border fence early on Saturday from Gaza.
- Video footage circulating on social media showed the gunmen descending in paragliders on the gathering. Others came by road.
- Dozens of Hamas fighters opened fire on the young Israelis who had come together for a night of electronic music to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
- Videos compiled by Israeli first responders and posted to the social media site Telegram show armed men plunging into the panicked crowd, mowing down fleeing revellers with bursts of automatic fire.
- Many victims were shot in the back as they ran.
- While rockets rained down, revellers said, fighters converged on the festival site while others waited near bomb shelters, gunning down people who were seeking refuge.
- Saturday’s attack is believed to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history.
Where did it happen?
- The party was held in a dusty field outside the Re’im kibbutz, about 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres) from the wall that separates Gaza from southern Israel.
How many casualties?
- Israeli emergency services said 260 bodies had been recovered from the site of the festival.
- But festival organisers said they were helping Israeli security forces locate attendees who were still missing. The death toll could rise as teams continue to clear the area.
What else do we know about the Hamas fighters behind it?
- Many of the fighters, who also arrived in trucks and on motorcycles, were wearing body armour and brandishing AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
An Israeli rescue service says it has removed at least 260 bodies from the Supernova music festival site that was attacked as part of Hamas’ operation against Israel pic.twitter.com/ruRCNwhGjG
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 9, 2023
What are victims saying?
- “We were hiding and running, hiding and running, in an open field – the worst place you could possibly be in that situation,” said Arik Nani from Tel Aviv, who had gone to the party to celebrate his 26th birthday.
- “For a country where everyone in these circles knows everyone, this is a trauma like I could never imagine,” Maya Alper, 25, told the Associated Press.
- “I can’t even explain the energy they (the militants) had. It was so clear they didn’t see us as human beings,” she said. “They looked at us with pure, pure hate.”
- Elad Hakim, who escaped in a speeding car with companions, said he “was certain that we were being kidnapped”.
- “I wrote to my parents, I sent my friend a recording for him to tell my parents that I didn’t suffer and that it was… that it will be OK.”
- Zohar Maariv, 23, who lives on the Gaza border said she felt “this was the end” during the attack.
- “I live on the Gaza border and I’ve seen things in my life, but I’ve never felt it this close,” Maariv said, who had to jump out of the car she was escaping in when it came under fire from two sides.
- “I have never felt so close to death,” she added.