Tal Ghibli told CNN that the rockets started around 6:30 a.m. Thirty minutes later, she and hundreds of others attending an Israeli music festival were running as Gaza gunmen shot them.
This horrific attack was just one of several sites that were subjected Saturday morning to the most sustained and coordinated attack inside Israel ever carried out by Hamas militants.
The gunmen left many dead at the scene while many of those present were taken hostage and were seen in videos on social media being held captive by their armed captors.
The outdoor Nova Festival event in a rural farming area near the Gaza-Israel border was supposed to be an all-night dance party, celebrating the Jewish Sukkot holiday. But as dawn broke, Ghibli said they started hearing sirens and missiles.
“We didn’t even have anywhere to hide because we were in it [an] Open space,” she told CNN. “Everyone got so panicked and started taking their stuff.”
Explosions can be heard in a video Ghibli took of her and her friends walking through the quickly emptying concert grounds, about two miles from the border.
One of them is heard saying “Emaili,” a common Israeli expression for fear or a feeling of astonishment.
Little did Ghibli and the others know it, but less than two miles away, Gaza militants also began attacking Israeli tanks and soldiers.
When those present fled in their cars, Ghibli said the roads became blocked and no one could move. She says that’s when the shooting started.
In the videos taken by Ghibli, an Israeli military vehicle is shown driving against the direction of traffic while people try to make way for it. The voice of someone outside the car was heard shouting: “Go!” move ahead! move ahead!”
That’s when Ghibli said she and her friends panicked, abandoned the car and started running.
A video circulated on social media showed hundreds of attendees fleeing their cars and running across an empty field, with gunshots echoing in the background.
CNN did not broadcast the entire video because as the shooting approached, a number of people were seen falling to the ground. It was not clear from the video whether the people falling were taking cover or whether they were exposed to gunfire.
People run across an empty field away from gunfire at a music festival near the Gaza-Israel border on October 7, 2023.
Ghibli told CNN that she ran into the woods and eventually got into another car that was passing by. She saw a number of dead and wounded on both sides of the road, but one scene in particular stuck with her: one partygoer was shot to death outside a truck, and another was killed in the passenger seat of the car.
Ghibli’s confirmed video, which CNN obtained of the scene, showed the two victims she saw.
“It was very terrifying and we didn’t know where to go so as not to meet these evil people,” she said. “I have a lot of friends who got lost in the woods for hours on end and got shot as if from a distance.”
Ghibli is still trying to contact her friends who also attended the party. She says she doesn’t know if the others survived, were captured, or worse.
Details of the hostages in the attack began to emerge, as family members identified their relatives in videos circulating from Gaza.
In one video that went viral, an Israeli woman and her boyfriend — identified as Noah Argamani and Avinatan Or, who attended the festival — were shown being kidnapped.
In the video, Argamani was seen on the back of a motorcycle driving away, calling for help. He was seen or nearby as the motorcycle carrying Argamani passed by, and was eventually arrested by several men – forced to walk with his hands tied behind his back.
A dark plume of smoke was also seen in the background. CNN cannot independently verify the video.
The couple’s family and friends expressed their desire to share the video widely in the hope of locating them and securing their safe release.
“It’s very difficult to see someone who is very close to you and know a lot treated this way,” Amir Maadi, Noah Argamani’s roommate, told CNN, adding that he knew about five or six people who were in the room. The festival has since disappeared.
“But we still have people missing. We have friends and families, young and old, and everyone who arrived in the Gaza Strip, and we have to do everything now to get them back.”
Moshe Or, the brother of Avinatan Or, a friend of Argamani, told CNN affiliate Channel 12 that it did not take long to find the video.
“I saw his girlfriend Noah in the video, scared and terrified, I can’t imagine what is happening to her at all – screaming in panic on a motorcycle, while some miscreants grab her and won’t let her go.” He said.
“My brother, he’s a big guy, two meters tall, he trains four times a week, and he’s a really strong guy. They held him down with maybe four or five people and led them towards the bar, I think.”
In another video verified by CNN, an unconscious woman who was present at the festival can be seen being paraded by gunmen in Gaza.
CNN confirmed the woman’s identity as Shani Luke, a dual German-Israeli citizen. CNN has reached out to her family for comment, but has not yet received a response.
her cousin She confirmed to the Washington Post That Luke attended a music festival.
Luke appears in the video motionless. One of the militants, carrying a rocket-propelled grenade, had his leg wrapped around her waist; The other holds a mass of her dreadlocks. They chanted “Allahu Akbar” – meaning “God is great” in Arabic.
Some of the crowds gathered around the truck joined in the cheers. A man spits on Luke’s head as the car drives off.
CNN does not know Luke’s whereabouts or condition at this time. CNN is not broadcasting the video because it is graphic and disturbing.
“We recognized her by her tattoos, and she has long braids,” Luke’s cousin told The Washington Post. “We have some kind of hope… Hamas is responsible for it and for others.”
A German Foreign Ministry source told CNN: “The Federal Foreign Ministry and the German Embassy in Tel Aviv are in close contact with the Israeli authorities in order to clarify whether and to what extent German citizens have been affected.”
In a video clip obtained by the German newspaper Bild, Luke’s mother, Ricarda, said: “This morning, Palestinian Hamas kidnapped my daughter, Shani Nicole Luke, a German citizen, with a group of tourists in southern Israel.”
“They sent us a video in which I can clearly see our unconscious daughter in the car with the Palestinians walking around the Gaza Strip,” she said. “I ask you to send us any help or any news. Thank you very much.”
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