Hamas gunmen open fire on hundreds at music festival in southern Israel

During the surprise assault on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas Saturday, gunmen opened fire on hundreds of young people during a dance music festival in the southern Israeli kibbutz of Re’im near the Gaza Strip, according to the Associated Press and multiple Israeli media outlets.

Witnesses told the Times of Israel that rocket fire was followed by gunshots fired into the crowd, as hundreds tried to flee.

“The music stopped and there was a rocket siren,” a young woman called Ortal told Israel’s Channel 12, according to Reuters. “Suddenly out of nowhere, they started shooting.”

Haaretz, one of Israel’s largest newspapers, described the scene as a “massacre” and a “battlefield,” and reported that terrorists on motorcycles drove into the crowd “opening fire.”

Another party attendee, Esther Borochov, told Reuters that she had to play dead until she was rescued by Israeli soldiers.

“I couldn’t move my legs,” she told Reuters at a hospital. “Soldiers came and took us away to the bushes.”

Videos showed Israelis racing across vast open fields and taking cover in orchards. The number of fatalities and injuries from the massacre is unclear. However, Channel 12 said the bodies of dozens of party-goers had been recovered.

Hamas launched a highly-coordinated surprise attack on Israel Saturday from the Gaza Strip. Thousands of rockets were fired, and gunmen infiltrated border towns and bases.

At least 250 people in Israel have been killed and 1,500 wounded, according to Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency services agency.

The assault came on Simchat Torah, a normally joyous day when Jews complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll. 

At least 232 people have been killed and 1,697 wounded in Gaza from Israeli counterattacks, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported Saturday.   

Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli security forces stand along a debris-strewn street in Tel Aviv, Israel after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip. 

Ilia Yefimovich/dpa via Getty Images

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