Terrorists stormed an Israeli music festival and “butchered festivalgoers in cold blood” before looting their belongings, chilling new dashcam footage has revealed.
Shocked volunteers were tasked with recovering the bodies of at least 260 young Israeli and foreign party-goers gunned down by Hamas militants at a music festival near the Gaza border.
Thousands of music-lovers had danced through the night at the Supernova festival in a remote area of southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip.
But tragedy struck at dawn on Saturday when more than 1,000 Hamas militants crossed the Gaza border into Israel and overran frontier communities under the cover of a barrage of rocket fire.
The militants stormed Israel on motorbikes, pickup trucks, speed boats and motorised gliders, some of which were seen flying over the festival in a video widely shared online.
Festival-goers were seen fleeing for their lives across an open field towards cars as gunshots were heard.
New dashcam footage, verified by CNN, offers disturbing insight into how the deadly attack unfolded.
In one clip, timestamped at 9.23am – three hours after the first explosions were heard at the festival, a militant holding a machine gun is seen leading a bleeding man away.
Another man is seen lying on the ground at the back of a car. He starts moving, only for a second gun-wielding militant to approach him and shoot him point blank.
Another clip, timestamped at 12.09pm, shows two militants rifling through the same man’s pockets as he lays motionless on the ground.
Under three minutes later, militants pull a woman out the boot of a car and lead her away – as other soldiers empty a suitcase from another car’s trunk and start sifting through it.
While many were killed others were taken hostage, with a video of 25-year-old woman, Noa Argamani, reportedly crying for help from the back of a motorbike while being kidnapped spreading across social media.
“They just went and gunned down people in the cars,” Moti Bukjin, a spokesman for the humanitarian organisation Zaka, which helped to recover bodies from the area, told AFP.
“In the area where the party took place, and at the party itself” he estimated that “there were 200-250 bodies,” based on the number of trucks used to ferry away the corpses.
That grim assessment means the number of dead at the festival accounts for more than a third of the overall death toll from the Hamas assault, which the Israeli army put at over 700.
In the ensuing Israeli air strikes, at least 560 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the health ministry there.
‘Bodies in ditches’
Bukjin said he had been a volunteer at Zaka for 28 years and “thought I reached my end” after working at a deadly stampede in Meron during a religious festival two years ago.
“I thought it was the end of the world” but “it turns out things can be much, much worse,” he said in a phone call with AFP as he prepared to continue the recovery work for Zaka, a religious NGO that specialises in collecting bodies in accordance with Jewish law.
“They butchered people in cold blood in an inconceivable way,” he said of what he saw at the site of the music festival.
On a major road nearby, “there were cars on the side of the road, an overturned car, a car on its side – in each car there were two or three bodies or just one body shot dead,” he said.
Aerial footage obtained by AFP of the aftermath of the attack showed dozens of burned-out cars on the side of the road leading out from the festival site.
Bukjin said all the bodies he handled were of people who had been shot dead, with the attackers finishing them off with a bullet to the head or by torching their cars.
“What’s shocking is that they confirmed the people they shot were dead. They had so much time till the security forces got there. Some of the cars they burnt with people inside,” he said.
“On some we saw a gunshot to the head, a bullet to the head, a bullet in the chin. It’s not randomly spraying bullets and hoping they hit.” Festival-goers who tried to escape on foot were among the dead. “Some of the bodies were in ditches, they were shot trying to flee and fell into the ditches on the side of the road,” he said.
The conversation with Bukjin took place as the army announced its forces had regained control of the communities near Gaza from Hamas fighters.
Bukjin said that only now would Zaka begin collecting the bodies from those communities, including the elderly, children and babies.
“It’s going to be a rough day,” he said gravely