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Festival-goers recount fleeing through ‘shooting range’ past dead and injured bodies

TEL AVIV – It was around 10pm on Friday night that the hotly-anticipated Supernova music festival kicked off. Advertised as “a journey of unity and love”, it was planned to coincide with the Jewish festival of Sukkot – and was attended by hundreds of festival-goers.

Hours later, more than 200 of them would be dead, with many more taken into Gaza as hostages. The attack, staged by Hamas militants, formed part of a multi-pronged surprise offensive on Israeli territory that has shocked the world.

The festival took place in Kibbutz Re’im, an open stretch of farmland two miles from the Gaza border, described as “stunning for its beauty”.

One video sent to i shows a series of black marks appearing across the skyline as festival-goers continue to dance, unaware of the atrocities that were about to unfold. Those marks turned out to be Hamas militants riding through the air on motorised-paragliders.

Minutes later, the festival switched from hedonistic joy into a shocking scene of terror and destruction, with Hamas militants attacking the site with machine guns and grenades.

“We didn’t have any place to hide because we were in an open space,” Tal Gibly, a 23-year-old festivalgoer, told i. It was then that “everyone panicked”.

“Everyone started trying to take their stuff and try to get out with their cars,” she said.

But a sudden rush of hundreds of terrified festival-goers trying to leave the scene caused a bottleneck, with cars unable to move. In videos, people can be seen squeezing into vehicles, whilst others run through the scrubland on foot, clad in shorts and colourful festival clothing.

Under a hail of gunfire, people whose cars were unable to move due to the traffic build-up began to exit their vehicles and join those fleeing on-foot.

As this happened, the Hamas militants continued to attack the festival from multiple directions. “It was like a shooting range,” says Ms Gibly.

After around an hour of running through the forest that surrounded the festival area, Ms Gibly saw people she knew from the party in a car, and managed to squeeze in to evacuate. As they drove off, they continued to hear bursts of gunfire in the distance.

On their drive to safety, they passed dead bodies and injured people at the sides of the road. A chilling video shared with i shows a litter of burnt-out vehicles, some flipped on their backs, lining the side of the road.

Another extremely graphic video shows the blood-covered body of a dead man on the floor next to a car, with another body inside the car’s passenger seat.

Festival-goers have reported it took over three hours for Israeli authorities to arrive, a delay that has been a key-talking point throughout Israel in the past two days, as the country grapples to come to terms with how this huge attack was planned and executed with such surprise.

Ms Gibly says she was “lucky”, because many of her friends were stuck in the forest for hours and unable to escape.

The attack has left Israel reeling – and the events that may follow are highly unpredictable.

In addition to the 260 dead, many others are thought to have been taken back into Gaza as hostages.

One such hostage is Noa Argamani, who can be seen in a viral video being driven off on the back of a motorcycle while she pleads for her captives to free her.

Among the missing is 26-year-old Briton Jake Marlowe, who was working as a security guard at the event. His mother told The Jewish News: “He was doing security at this rave and called me at 4.30am to say all these rockets were flying over.

“Then, at about 5.30am, he texted to say, ‘signal very bad, everything OK, will keep you updated I promise you’, and that he loves me.” As of 2pm on Monday afternoon, Marlowe is still missing.

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