Israel festival revelers shot at point-blank range, video shows
Oct 9, 2023, 8:56 PM
(CNN) —Gaza militants who attacked an all-night music festival in southern Israel shot and killed revelers at point-blank range, then looted their belongings, new car dashcam video verified by CNN reveals.
The video began circulating on social media on Sunday and – alongside footage of harrowing kidnappings from the same event – has been scrutinized by horrified families desperate for news of loved ones missing since a series of coordinated attacks triggered Israel’s declaration of war on Sunday.
Israeli officials counted at least 260 bodies near the site of the Nova festival, outside Re’im, where earlier footage showed carefree partygoers from Israel and overseas dancing in the desert soon after sunrise on Saturday.
Some survivors are among more than 100 hostages that the militant group Hamas claims to be holding in Gaza, according to friends and family members who have seen them in videos shared on social platforms.
— CNN (@CNN) October 9, 2023
The dashcam video verified by CNN gives a glimpse of the terror as militants took over the festival, preventing some partygoers from leaving with deadly force.
The first clip, begins at 9:23 a.m. according to its timecode, just under three hours after the first explosions were reported at the Nova festival.
The video has no audio, but a militant is seen yelling, then pointing his machine gun at a man taking cover next to the car. It’s unclear if the gunman is firing a warning shot, or if he’s just shot and injured the civilian, who is then seen being led away. His fate is unknown.
A second individual is seen in the video lying on the ground at the back of another car. The person begins to move and suddenly another militant appears on screen, aims at the person, fires and walks away. The person on the ground stops moving.
Another video from the dashcam, timestamped at 12:09 p.m., shows two militants approach the body of the second individual. They rifle through the person’s pockets, and one picks something off the body and puts it into his own back pocket.
Less than three minutes later, militants grab a woman out of the back of the car. She is led away, and the militants begin to open another car’s trunk and empty a suitcase on the ground to be pilfered.
The video picks up at 12:14 p.m., with the captured woman running back into view. Her hands in the air, she appears to be waving toward the festival grounds.
Dirt and dust are seen flying as bullets hit the ground around her. Next to the emptied suitcase and open trunk, she takes cover again. Her fate is unknown.
Killed on the phone with his parents
The parents of Alexandre Look, a 33-year-old Canadian, told CNN news partner CBC they were on the phone with him as he tried to escape the gunfire. Look and others sought shelter in a bunker without a door during the militant attack, his parents said.
“And then I heard him tell his friends, ‘They’re coming back. There’s a lot of them. And then all I heard was a lot of gunshots, lots of rounds and then we heard nothing,” Look’s mother, Raquel Ohnona Look, told CBC.
Look’s parents said he died trying to shield others from the gunfire.
“Like a true warrior, he left as a hero wanting to protect the people he was with. Alex was a force of nature, endowed with a unique charisma and unparalleled generosity,” his father, Alain Haim Look, posted on Facebook on Saturday. “The world will never be the same without you. Goodbye my son, I love you and watch over us from above.”
François Legault, premier of the Canadian province of Quebec, sent his condolences to the family on Monday.
“My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Quebecer Alexandre Look who lost his life in one of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel,” Legault posted on X, formerly Twitter. “I am saddened by the dramatic circumstances of his death.”
Families search for missing children
Ricarda Louk last saw her daughter Shani lying face down in the back of a pickup truck heading to the Gaza Strip, an isolated coastal enclave of almost 2 million people crammed into 140 square miles.
She last spoke to her after hearing rockets and alarms sounding in southern Israel, and phoned her daughter to see if she’d made it to a secure location. Shani told her mother she was at the festival, held in an open field with few places to hide.
Aerial footage posted on social media showed dozens of cars along the side of the road near the entrance to the festival grounds, some burned, others with windows missing and doors hanging open.
Shani was trying to reach one of those vehicles, her mother said.
“She was going to her car and they had military people standing by the cars and were shooting so people couldn’t reach their cars, even to go away. And that’s when they took her,” Ricarda told CNN.
The disturbing video of her daughter in the back of the pickup truck and attempts by someone to use Shani’s credit card twice in Gaza after the attack are the only hints she has of her daughter’s whereabouts.
In the video, she is seen motionless. One gunman, carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher, has his leg draped over her waist and the other holds a clump of her dreadlocks. “Allahu Akbar,” they cheer – meaning “God is great” in Arabic.
Ricarda hopes she will see her daughter again, but the situation is bleak.
“It looks very bad, but I still have hope. I hope that they don’t take bodies for negotiations. I hope that she’s still alive somewhere. We don’t have anything else to hope for, so I try to believe,” she said.
Hiding for hours, then …
Like Ricarda Louk, Yakov Argamani last saw his daughter on one of the cellphone videos that have emerged in the aftermath of Saturday’s raid.
Noa Argamani, 25, is seen pleading for help from the back of a motorcycle driven by Hamas militants at the festival site.
Her tearful father struggled to find words to convey his shock and grief on seeing the video: “I couldn’t believe it … I didn’t want to believe it,” Yakov told CNN.
Noa was attending the festival with her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, who is also seen being led away by militants.
Noa’s childhood friend Shlomit Marciano, who was helping comfort her family when they spoke to CNN, said the text messages they received suggest their friends were hiding for hours as militants rampaged through the festival site.
Or texted Noa’s father around 10 a.m. to say the couple were safe, almost four hours after the first reports of an attack. Other friends also texted, begging for help, Marciano said.
“Since that, no contact. We suppose they were abducted at 12. They probably were hiding for three, four hours begging for help. They started hiding after hearing the massacres and the shooting. And then (the militants) found them,” Marciano said.
Now Yakov is relying on his faith, Marciano said.
“He believes in God. He’s praying that she’s okay. And she will come back to him, to the family and to us safely. She’s their only child.”
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