Rescuers recover more than 260 bodies at music festival attacked by Hamas

Athena Stavrou

The Independent  /  October 9, 2023

A British citizen is among dozens of festival attendees who are missing, kidnapped or presumed dead.

The Israeli rescue service Zaka says its paramedics removed more than 260 bodies from a music festival that came under attack by Hamas militants.

The total figure of bodies found is expected to be higher, as other paramedic teams were also working in the area and Zaka added that the bodies “haven’t all been collected yet”.

Early on Saturday morning, Hamas targeted Nova music festival, a techno rave in the desert near the border with Gaza.

Videos shared on social media and by Israeli news outlets showed dozens of festival-goers running through an open field as gunshots rang out. Many hid in nearby fruit orchards or were gunned down as they fled.

British citizen Jake Marlowe, 26, a carpenter by trade, was employed as a security guard at the Nova music festival just six kilometres east of Gaza, which was in full swing Saturday when Hamas launched the biggest attack on Israel in decades.

He is among dozens of festival attendees who are missing, kidnapped or presumed dead, multiple witnesses and family members told The Independent.

“He was doing security at this rave yesterday and called me at 4.30am to say all these rockets were flying over,” The 26-year-old’s mother, Lisa, told Jewish News. “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.”

Parents and friends received panicked messages, seen by The Independent, desperately asking for help and for the army to deploy, saying they were wounded and had no way out.

Videos from Gaza started appearing online on Saturday, including one showing a young woman Noa Argamani being abducted by Hamas militants as she rode with her boyfriend on a motorcycle.

On Sunday, another video showed the mutilated body of one woman, identified as German tattoo artist Shani Louk by her friends, being paraded around in her underwear around Gaza. It is believed she had been attending the same outdoor music festival.

 “It is unlike anything we have ever seen,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, the international spokesperson for the Israeli army.

“There is a deep concern for the wellbeing and lives of the hostages. At this stage, I don’t think anyone can guarantee they will be returned alive. We do not know who is alive and who is dead.”

Zaka, in a statement issued on Sunday night, said: “We collected over 260 bodies from the nature party. They haven’t all been collected yet.”

Israeli military officials told The Independent the attack “was completely unprecedented” and they were fearful for the lives of the hostages.

More than 700 Israelis and 400 Palestinians have been killed since attacks begun on Saturday morning. It is unclear exactly how many Israelis have been kidnapped, but it is thought to be over 100 people are being held hostage by Hamas.

Athena Stavrou – General reporter at The Independent