Advertisement

Israel festival massacre: Survivors recount terror amid Hamas slaughter that left at least 260 dead

Israel festival massacre: Survivors recount terror amid Hamas slaughter that left at least 260 dead

Revellers have told of their horror after fleeing a massacre that led to hundreds of deaths at a music festival in Israel.

On Saturday, supported by a barrage of thousands of rockets, hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters broke out of Gaza in a land, sea and air dawn assault across southern Israel.

Their indiscriminate onslaught of murder, kidnap and torture of civilians and Israeli troops sparked condemnation around the world.

Sahar Ben Sela, survivor of the deadly attack at the festival, sits in a wheelchair as he recovers at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv (REUTERS)
Sahar Ben Sela, survivor of the deadly attack at the festival, sits in a wheelchair as he recovers at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv (REUTERS)

Rescuers found at least 260 bodies at a music festival overrun by the militants.

Shocking online footage showed dozens of festival-goers running through fields at Kibbutz Re’im near the border with Gaza. Many were shot as they tried to hide.

“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.”

While rockets rained down, revellers said militants converged on the open field while others waited near bomb shelters, gunning down people who were seeking refuge.

Israeli communities on either side of the festival grounds also came under attack, with Hamas gunmen abducting dozens of men, women and children — including elderly and disabled people — and killing scores of others.

People flee the Supernova festival (Supplied)
People flee the Supernova festival (Supplied)

As the carnage unfolded before her, eyewitness Alper pulled a few disoriented-looking revellers into her car from the street and drove in the opposite direction.

One of them said he had lost his wife in the chaos and Alper had to stop him from breaking out of the car to find her. Another said she had just seen Hamas gunmen shoot and kill her best friend. Another rocked in his seat, murmuring over and over “We are going to die.”

In the rear-view mirror, Alper watched the dance floor where she had spent the past ecstatic hours transform into a giant cloud of black smoke.

Nowhere was safe, she said. The roar of explosions, hysterical screams and automatic gunfire felt closer the further she drove.

When a man just metres away shouted “God is great!”, Alper and her new companions sprung out of the car and sprinted through open fields toward a mass of bushes.

Alper felt a bullet whiz past her left ear. Aware the gunmen would outrun her, she plunged into a tangle of shrubs. Peering through thorns, she said she saw one of her passengers, the girl who had lost her friend, shriek and collapse as a gunman stood over her limp body, grinning.

An armed Palestinian militant leading a man during the Supernova music festival (ANONYMOUS/AFP via Getty Images)
An armed Palestinian militant leading a man during the Supernova music festival (ANONYMOUS/AFP via Getty Images)

“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.”

For over six hours, Alper — and thousands of other concert attendees — hid without help from the Israeli army as Hamas militants sprayed automatic gunfire and threw grenades.

A pick-up truck full of Palestinian citizens of Israel pulled up later on. The men from the Bedouin city of Rahat were scouring the area to help rescue Israeli survivors. Helping Alper into their car, they drove her to the police station, where she collapsed, crying, into her father’s arms.

“This is not just war. This is hell,” Alper said. “But in that hell I still feel that somehow, we can choose to act out of love, and not just fear.”

Another one of the partygoers at the festival, Ortel, said sirens went off at around dawn, warning of rockets, before gunmen opened fire “in every direction”.

“They turned off the electricity and suddenly out of nowhere they [militants] come inside with gunfire, opening fire in every direction,” she told Israel’s Channel 12.

“Fifty terrorists arrived in vans, dressed in military uniforms.”

People attempted to flee, but were met with jeeps full of attackers, shooting at them, she said.

People flee the Supernova festival (Supplied)
People flee the Supernova festival (Supplied)

“They fired bursts, and we reached a point where everyone stopped their vehicles and started running. I went into a tree, a bush like this, and they just started spraying people,” she said.

“I saw masses of wounded people thrown around and I’m in a tree and trying to understand what’s going on."

The festival took place in the Negev desert, near Kibbutz Re’im. It is not far from the Gaza Strip, from where Hamas islamists crossed over at dawn on Saturday to launch their attack.