An attack by the Hamas terrorist group on a music festival on Saturday resulted in the deaths of at least 260 partygoers.
At around 6:30 a.m. local time on October 7th, which was both Shabbat and the holiday of Simchat Torah, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel. Thousands of rockets were fired at civilian areas in Israel, and over 1000 Hamas terrorists trespassed the border, swiftly occupying several Israeli towns.
Dozens of Hamas fighters descended on the Supernova music festival in Re’im, an all-night dance party celebrating the holidays. What began as a gathering of “friends, love, and infinite freedom” quickly became a “battlefield,” according to one survivor.
Some 3,000 young people were attending the music festival, and videos show them dancing under the morning sun before being attacked.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, a survivor of the attack stated that “50 terrorists arrived in vans, dressed in military uniforms…They fired bursts, and we reached a point where everyone stopped their vehicles and started running. I went into a tree…they just started spraying people.”
“We didn’t even have any place to hide because we were at [an] open space,” another survivor of the attack told CNN.
Hundreds of people were wounded and dozens were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Disturbing details of these hostages are beginning to emerge as families recognize their loved ones in videos from Gaza.
One video showed Israeli attendees, Noa Argamani and her boyfriend Avinatan Or, being kidnapped. Argamani was seen being taken away on a motorcycle while pleading for help, with Or apprehended shortly after.
Another video displayed an unconscious German-Israeli dual national, Shani Louk, being paraded by armed terrorists in Gaza. She can be seen stripped down to her underwear and contorted unnaturally in a truck, as Hamas operatives are shown celebrating and cheering nearby.
Such acts have garnered international attention and condemnation, with Israeli legal and security experts declaring them likely war crimes.
Professor Yuval Shany, an international law expert at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Times of Israel, “Hamas has committed a long list of crimes in this attack for which have been documented, including the killing of civilians, taking civilians captive, and abusing the bodies of civilians and soldiers.”
Hamas and the smaller terrorist group in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), claim to currently have over 100 hostages in their custody, some taken from the music festival, and others from surrounding towns.
Mass killings of civilians have been reported in areas around the Gaza Strip, such as in Kibbutz Be’eri, where Zaka recovered roughly 100 bodies.
“Never before have so many Israeli civilians and soldiers been killed in one day,” IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.
The attack on the Supernova music festival was just a part of a multifaceted surprise attack coordinated and launched by Hamas.
According to the IDF, 1290 Hamas targets have been struck and the number is expected to grow significantly. Prime Minister Netanyahu has informed U.S. President Joe Biden that a ground operation in Gaza is all but inevitable.
Netanyahu and National Unity Party Chair Benny Gantz have entered negotiations for creating a unity government with a small war cabinet for effective, unified leadership in the face of the ongoing crisis.
“The internal rift is over. We are united and when we are united we win. The nation is united, and now, the leadership needs to unite. I call on opposition leaders to establish a national emergency government, as was established with Menachem Begin before the Six-Day War,” Netanyahu said in a speech on Monday.
Israelis were reminded by Home Front Command on Monday to stock up on essentials and stay close to shelters, as the coming days hold much uncertainty.