Israeli survivors recount terror at music festival, where Hamas militants killed at least 260

 The night was a getaway. Thousands of young men and women gathered at a vast field in southern Israel near the Gaza border to dance without a care. Old and new friends jumped up and down, reveling the swirl of the bass-heavy beats.

Maya Alper was standing toward the back of the bar with teams of environmentally conscious volunteers, picking up trash and passing out free vodka shots to party-goers who reused their cups. Just after 6.a.m., as a light-blue dawn broke and the headliner D.J. took the stage, air raid sirens cut through the ethereal trap music. Rockets streaked overhead.

Alper, 25, jumped into her car and raced to the main road. But at the intersection she encountered crowds of stricken festival attendees, shouting at drivers to turn around. Then, a noise. Firecrackers? Panicked men and women staggering down the road just in front of her fell to the ground in pools of blood. Gunshots.

The open-air Tribe of Nova music festival will go down in Israeli history as the country’s worst civilian massacre. Dozens of Hamas militants who had blown through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence and crossed into the country from Gaza opened fire on young Israelis who had come together for a joyous night of electronic music. Some attendees were drunk or high on drugs, magnifying their confusion and terror.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga