At least 260 killed in attack on Israel festival
At least 260 people have been killed and others abducted in an attack by Hamas militants on Israel’s Supernova festival in what is believed to be the deadliest-ever assault on a music event.
Held under the Universo Paralello brand launched in Brazil 23 years ago, The Tribe of Nova presents Supernova was staged in Israel for the first time from 6-7 October – coinciding with the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
The trance music festival was being attended by around 3,000 people in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im, not far from the Gaza Strip, when Palestinian militants stormed the gathering on Saturday morning and opened fire as part of a surprise coordinated attack on Israel.
Eyewitnesses told Israel’s Channel 12 that a siren went off at the event around dawn, warning of rockets attacks. Rockets were then quickly followed by gunshots, as festival-goers attempted to flee in their cars.
“Suddenly out of nowhere they came inside with gunfire, opening fire in every direction”
“In the middle of the party, which was big and at high volume, a red alarm started,” said one witness. “They turned off the music and we all gathered our things. They turned off the electricity and suddenly out of nowhere they came inside with gunfire, opening fire in every direction. I took the car keys and we started moving forward to escape the gunfire. At some point they overtook us, they shot at our vehicles and we got out of them.
“Fifty terrorists arrived in vans, dressed in military uniforms. They fired bursts, and we reached a point where everyone parked their vehicles and started running. I [hid in a bush] and they just started spraying people.
“There were several vehicles that started driving and their wheels were also shot at. I was in the bush for almost an hour, I didn’t move and everything passed before my eyes.”
Supernova, which had three stages, a camping area and a bar, had reportedly been switched to the Re’im site at short notice when a deal to hold it at another location collapsed.
Israeli producer Artifex was performing on the main stage when the attack started, with the festival’s international line-up also including Aladin, Astral Projection, Flare, Jackalon, Jumpstreet, Kido, Libra, Man With no Name, Noface, Protonica, Rocky Tilbor, Shove, Spectra Sonics, Swarup and Wegha.
“People were hiding in ditches, hiding in bushes, hiding in the woods, hiding wherever you can think of”
Artist manager Raz Gaster, who represented several of the artists at the event, tells Billboard: “Around 6:30 in the morning we started hearing explosions. We went out of the backstage and we saw a full bombardment everywhere. It was hundreds of rockets and mortars flying from everywhere and explosions all around us.
“People were hiding in ditches, hiding in bushes, hiding in the woods, hiding wherever you can think of.”
An emergency medic who was called to the event tells public broadcaster Kan News: “It was a massacre. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was a planned ambush. As people came out of the emergency exits, squads of terrorists were waiting for them there and just started picking them off.
“There were 3,000 people at the event, so they probably knew it. They had intelligence information.”
The death toll is expected to rise while teams continue to clear the area.
“We stand with the residents of Israel, IDF fighters and the security forces in these difficult moments”
The BBC reports at least 700 people have been killed in Israel since the attacks began, including 44 soldiers, while more than 500 people have died in Gaza after Israel launched retaliatory air strikes. In a televised address, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war.”
Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), described the events of Saturday as “a 9/11 and a Pearl Harbor wrapped into one”. “It is by far the worst day in Israeli history,” he said. “Never before have so many Israelis been killed by one single thing on one day.”
A 60,000-cap Bruno Mars concert scheduled for Saturday (7 October) Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park was cancelled amid the escalation of the conflict. The US star had played his first ever show in Israel just three days earlier. Hayarkon Park has hosted recent shows by acts including Guns N’ Roses and Maroon 5, as well as the Summer in the City festival, which featured the likes of Sam Smith, Robbie Williams, Martin Garrix and Papa Roach.
“We stand with the residents of Israel, IDF fighters and the security forces in these difficult moments,” says a statement, translated from Hebrew, by Live Nation Israel.
Tel Aviv emerging music showcase InDNegev, set for 12-14 October, has also been called off.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.