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

Hundreds killed in surprise Hamas attack on Israel
Hundreds killed in surprise Hamas attack on Israel 02:07

During the surprise assault on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas Saturday, gunmen opened fire on a crowd of young people during a dance music festival in the southern Israeli kibbutz of Re'im near the Gaza Strip, multiple news agencies and Israeli media reported.

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

The Israeli rescue service Zaka said its paramedics removed about 260 bodies from the area where the music festival had been taking place, the Associated Press reported Sunday. The total figure is expected to be higher as other paramedic teams were working in the area. 

"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.

 Israeli officials confirmed early Monday local time that over 700 Israelis had been killed since Hamas launched its attacks from Gaza early Saturday morning. Another 2,150 were wounded. 

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

The Gaza Ministry of Health said Sunday that 370 Palestinians have died and 2,200 were wounded in Israeli counterattacks.

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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