Bodies of 260 killed in Israel festival massacre piled up after Hamas went 'tree by tree' executing victims

9 October 2023, 07:10 | Updated: 9 October 2023, 08:29

More than 260 bodies have been found at the site of Saturday's massacre at an Israeli peace rave near the Gaza strip
More than 260 bodies have been found at the site of Saturday's massacre at an Israeli peace rave near the Gaza strip. Picture: Social media

By Emma Soteriou

The bodies of revellers killed at a peace rave in southern Israel have been piled up in makeshift tents on-site as emergency workers work to identify victims.

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More than 260 bodies were found at the Israel festival following a Hamas attack.

Images from the aftermath of the massacre were shared across social media by the Israeli government, with victims seen being placed in body bags and piled up in tents.

Meanwhile, footage showed empty festival tents and abandoned cars strewn across the road.

The Supernova Festival, which takes place near the border with Gaza, was set upon by Hamas terrorists who crossed into Israel using motorised paragliders before killing the power and opening fire on festival-goers at the weekend.

Revellers were seen running away from the festival in the Negev Desert - where hostages were also taken from back into Palestinian territory.

Survivors said they were forced to hide under bushes as people were killed one-by-one.

The death toll from the event was confirmed by Israeli officials on Sunday evening - and could rise higher still.

The rave was set upon by Hamas terrorists who crossed the border from Gaza using motorised paragliders
The rave was set upon by Hamas terrorists who crossed the border from Gaza using motorised paragliders. Picture: X

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Among the survivors was Gili Yoskovich, who was forced to shelter beneath a fruit tree in the middle of the field during the attack.

"They were going tree by tree and shooting everywhere from two sides," she told the BBC. 

"I saw people were dying all around. They were all over the place with their automatic weapons. I was very quiet. I didn't cry, I didn't do anything.

"I was... breathing, saying: 'OK, I'm going to die. It's OK, just breathe, just close your eyes'."

Bodies of those killed in the attack have been piled up in tents
Bodies of those killed in the attack have been piled up in tents. Picture: Social media

According to Israeli local media, the death toll has now risen to more than 1000 in Israel with more than 2,000 injured.

The updated toll comes after Corporal Nathanel Young, 20, from London, was confirmed dead in the attack while serving as a soldier in the 13th Battalion of the Israel Defence Force.

Nathanel, who lived in Tel Aviv, died in an attack on the Gaza border on Saturday, his family said.

Paying tribute to Nathanel on Facebook, a family member wrote: "Our little brother Nathanel Young was tragically killed on the Gaza Border yesterday."

A further tribute shared with the Jewish news wrote: "Nathanel was full of life and the life of the party - he carried the nickname DJ on base and at Benji's house, the lone soldier house that he lived at.

"He loved his family and friends and was loved by everyone. He loved music and was a talented DJ.

"Always willing to go to any lengths for his loved ones. An amazing uncle and brother. He was so happy and thriving in Israel. He loved the country."

Over 100 Israelis have also been kidnapped, according to a press office statement from the Israeli government on Facebook.

More than 370 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliatory strikes, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Daniel Hagari, said in a statement posted to X this afternoon: “Whoever took part will pay the price. The war is difficult and challenging days lie ahead. The IDF is strong and will use every bit of its strength and power.”

It comes after Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group claimed responsibility for a rocket and artillery attack on Israel.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the attack, using "large numbers of rockets and shells", was in solidarity with the "Palestinian resistance".

The group said it targeted three positions on the country’s border, including the Shebaa Farms, a small piece of land occupied by Israel since 1967 - but Lebanon claims is its own.

The Israeli military says it fired back at the Lebanese areas on Sunday morning and continues to evacuate Israeli homes "according to the assessment of the situation".

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Nathanel's family shared a tribute following his death.
Nathanel's family shared a tribute following his death. Picture: Facebook

“The IDF has been taking preparational measures for this type of possibility and will continue to operate in all regions and at any time necessary to ensure the safety of the Israeli civilians," a spokesman said.

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu declared war after Hamas militant group launched a surprise attack from Gaza which saw the terrorists take both civilian and military hostages.

Thousands of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in a surprise attack by the Hamas militant group on Saturday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement overnight that the IDF will “use all its strength to destroy Hamas's capabilities”.

Death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza rises to 232
Israeli forces levelled a shopping centre in Gaza after the initial attack on southern Israel. Picture: Getty

The Israeli military has said that hundreds of Hamas gunmen who infiltrated the border have now been killed and dozens have been taken prisoner.

Its air force also said its fighter jets struck a “compound belonging to the head of the intelligence department in the Hamas terrorist organisation.”

The Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, approved a call-up for military reservists amid plans to retaliate against the airstrikes - the number of reservists has not yet been confirmed.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, declared war in a statement on Saturday as he said: “Citizens of Israel. We are at war, not an operation, not an escalation, a war.

"This morning Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens. We've been at it since early morning.

"I convened the heads of the security system, first of all I instructed to cleanse the settlements of the terrorists who had infiltrated - this operation is being carried out during these hours.

"At the same time, I ordered an extensive reserve mobilisation and a retaliatory war with a strength and scope that the enemy had never known.

"The enemy will pay a price he has never known. In the meantime, I call on all citizens of Israel to strictly obey the instructions of the army and the instructions of the Home Command.

"We are in a war and we will win it.

The Israeli military then began retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, as the military warned that Hamas will “face the consequences and responsibility” of its actions.

The military ordered Israeli residents to stay indoors amid the airstrikes.

More than 500 have been killed in Israel, local Israeli media has said.
More than 500 have been killed in Israel, local Israeli media has said. Picture: Alamy

Hamas fighters were spotted attempting to reach Israel via small boats, while other Palestinian fighters were reportedly seen crossing the border using paragliders.

Air raid sirens sounded across southern and central Israel amid the attacks, with explosions taking place in cities Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Yavne and Kfar Aviv.

Hamas’ infiltration comes despite Israrel’s fence along its border designed specifically to prevent infiltration, as it’s fitted deep underground and is equipped with cameras, high-tech sensors and sensitive listening technology.

The UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said of the situation: “I am shocked by this morning's attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. We're in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.”

Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel.
Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday morning. Picture: Getty
At least 22 have been killed in the airstrikes.
At least 200 have been killed in subsequent IDF airstrikes on the Gaza strip. Picture: Alamy

The US has also said it stands with Israel following the attack from the Hamas militant group.

“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

“There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”

Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East
Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East. Picture: Israel Government
Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack.
Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack. Picture: Alamy

Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007.

Hamas said its attack is just the start and is a response to Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and around Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“We’ve decided to say enough is enough,” Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said. “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth.”

He also said that 5,000 rockets had been launched, while talking on Hamas radio.

He labelled the strike the beginning of “Operation Al Aqsa Storm”.

The launches came after weeks of heightened tensions along Israel's volatile border with Gaza, and heavy fighting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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