The rockets began around 6:30 a.m., Tal Gbible told CNN. Thirty minutes later, she and hundreds of people attending an Israeli music festival were running as Gaza militants shot at them.
The terrifying attack was just one of multiple locations hit Saturday morning by the most sustained and coordinated attack inside Israel ever carried out by Hamas militants.
The gunmen left several revelers dead at the scene, while several attendees were taken hostage, as seen in social media videos being seized by their armed captors.
The outdoor Nova Festival event in a rural farming area near the Gaza-Israel border was supposed to be an all-night dance party celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. But when dawn broke, Gbly said they started hearing sirens and rockets.
“We didn’t even have anywhere to hide because we were in (an) open space,” he told CNN. “Everyone panicked and started taking their things.”
Explosions can be heard in a video taken by Gably of her and her friends walking through the rapidly emptying concert grounds, about two miles from the border.
“Ima’le,” someone is heard saying, a common Israeli expression of fear or shock.
Gbly and the others didn’t know it, but less than two miles away, Gaza militants had also begun attacking Israeli tanks and soldiers.
As attendees fled in their cars, Gbly said the roads became clogged and no one could move. That’s when the shooting started, he says.
In the videos Gably took, an Israeli military vehicle is seen driving against the flow of traffic as people try to make way for it. Someone outside the car is heard shouting: “Go away! Advance! Advance!”
That’s when Gbly said she and her friends panicked, abandoned the car and started running.
‘Like a shooting range’
A video circulating on social media showed hundreds of attendees fleeing their cars, running across an empty field with gunshots ringing in the background.
CNN is not airing the video in its entirety because as the shots get closer, several people are seen falling to the ground. It is not clear from the video whether the people who fall are taking cover or if they are being hit by gunfire.
Gbly told CNN he ran into the woods and eventually jumped into another car that was passing by. She saw several dead and injured people on the sides of the road, but one scene in particular caught her attention: a concertgoer shot to death outside a pickup truck and another dead in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Clearly confirmed video obtained by CNN from the scene showed the two victims he saw.
“It was so scary and we didn’t know where to drive so we wouldn’t run into those evil people,” she said. “I have many friends who were lost in the woods for many hours and were shot like it was a shooting range.”
Gably is still trying to contact his friends who were also at the concert. She says she doesn’t know if others survived, were taken prisoner or worse.
Hostages taken to Gaza
Details about the hostages in the attack are beginning to emerge as family members recognize their relatives in videos circulating from Gaza.
In a video that went viral, an Israeli woman and her boyfriend, identified as Noa Argamani and Avinatan Or, who had attended the festival, were kidnapped.
In it, Argamani is seen on the back of a motorcycle as they drive away while calling for help. Or he was seen nearby when the motorcycle carrying Argamani passed and he was eventually stopped by several men and forced to walk with his hands behind his back.
In the background there was also a dark column of smoke. CNN cannot independently verify the video.
Family and friends of the couple have expressed that they want the video to be shared widely in hopes of locating them and ensuring their safe release.
“It’s very difficult when you see that someone who is so close to you and knows so many things is treated like this,” Amir Moadi, a roommate of Noa Argamani, told CNN, adding that he knew about five or six people who had been at the festival that have since disappeared.
“But still, we have missing people. We have friends and families, young and old, all who arrived in the Gaza Strip, and we have to do everything we can to get them back now,” he said.
Moshe Or, brother of Argamani’s boyfriend, Avinatan Or, told CNN affiliate Channel 12 that it didn’t take him long to find the video.
“I saw his girlfriend Noa in the video, scared and afraid, I can’t imagine what is happening to her: screaming in panic on a motorcycle, when some bastards hold her down and don’t let her go,” he said. saying.
“My brother, who is a big guy, two meters tall, trains four times a week, he is a very strong guy. “I guess about four or five people held him back and just drove them toward the strip.”
In another video authenticated by CNN, an unconscious woman who was at the festival could be seen being paraded by armed militants in Gaza.
CNN has confirmed the woman’s identity as Shani Louk, a dual German-Israeli national. CNN has reached out to her family for comment but has not yet received a response.
Her cousin confirmed to the Washington Post that Louk attended the music festival.
In the video, Louk is seen motionless. A gunman, carrying a rocket-propelled grenade, has his leg draped over her waist; the other holds a lock of his dreadlocks. “Allahu Akbar,” they cheer, which means “God is great” in Arabic.
Some members of the crowd gathered around the truck join in the cheering. A man spits on Louk’s head as the car drives away.
CNN does not know Louk’s whereabouts or condition at this time. CNN is not airing the video because it is graphic and disturbing.
“We recognized her from the tattoos and she has long dreadlocks,” Louk’s cousin told the Washington Post. “We have some kind of hope… Hamas is responsible for her and the others.”
A German Foreign Ministry source told CNN: “The Federal Foreign Office and the German embassy in Tel Aviv are in close contact with the Israeli authorities to clarify whether and to what extent German citizens are affected.”
In a video obtained by German media outlet Bild, Louk’s mother, Ricarda, said: “This morning my daughter, Shani Nicole Louk, a German citizen, was kidnapped with a group of tourists in southern Israel by Palestinian Hamas.” .
“They sent us a video in which I could clearly see our daughter unconscious in the car with the Palestinians and them driving through the Gaza Strip,” he said. “I ask you to send us any help or any news. Thank you so much.”
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