Nearly 300 individuals were reportedly killed at a music festival in what is being described as a massacre that coincided with Hamas’ large-scale invasion of Israel this weekend.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on its website shortly after the invasion began that an “outdoor music festival” was among the places targeted by Hamas forces at the start of the incursion, which launched unexpectedly on Saturday with shelling from the Gaza Strip and ground forces and paratroopers pouring into Israel.
In the hours after the invasion, reports began to surface of a major incident at the Supernova music festival being held near Kibbutz Re’im in southwestern Israel, with Palestinian forces having allegedly gunned down a huge number of attendees at the event.
The BBC reported that “more than 260 bodies” were reportedly recovered from the site. The British outlet cited the Israeli rescue agency Zaka, which responded to the massacre and was working to gather the bodies of the victims there. Zaka did not respond to a request for comment on Monday regarding the shootings, but social media was flooded with footage of the incident, including its aftermath, some of which appeared to show a scene of wrecked and destroyed cars at the abandoned festival site.
Israeli resident Gili Yoskovich, meanwhile, told Israeli news network i24NEWS that she had been working the festival when the deadly chaos began.
“[T]errorists were coming from all over, hundreds of terrorists,” she said. “They started to shoot everywhere. And everyone started to run.”
Yoskovich told the BBC, meanwhile, that the invaders “were going tree by tree and shooting. I saw people were dying all around.”
“I was very quiet,” she said. “I didn’t cry, I didn’t do anything.”
News of the massacre was met with shock on social media and from commentators around the world. It also caught the attention of U2 frontman Bono, who at the band’s Las Vegas residency on Sunday opened a performance of the band’s iconic hit “Pride (In The Name of Love)” by urging the crowd to “join us in singing for our brothers and sisters, for those who were celebrating at the Supernova Sukkot festival in Israel.”
Shortly after the invasion on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Israel was “at war.” The country shortly thereafter officially declared war on Hamas, with military officials promising a major offensive against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response to the invasion.
By Daniel Payne