Shani Louk, a German-Israeli, was among the festival-goers who gathered in farmland near the Gaza-Israeli border for what was supposed to be an all-night dance celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Instead, in the early hours of Saturday morning, Hamas militants swarmed the city, gunning down revelers and taking others hostage in an unprecedented attack on Israel.
In a video later, Locke, seen in her dreadlocks and tattoos, marched in Gaza as onlookers shouted “Allahu Akbar.”
She is one of many Israeli nationals held hostage by Hamas militants and is being held across Gaza, complicating Israel’s response to the deadly attack.
Israel is taking pains to determine the exact number of hostages taken to Gaza. Gaza is a remote coastal enclave covering 140 square miles and home to nearly 2 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world.
The military’s international spokesman, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, told on Sunday that “dozens” of people had been captured, underscoring the complexity of the situation as the military launched airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation. In an earlier briefing, he had said those captured included “civilians, children and grandmothers”.
Hamas claims to have captured dozens of Israelis, including soldiers, and footage confirmed by shows some of the high-profile captures.
Hamas militant group Qassam Brigades warned that attacks in the area could affect hostages, with its spokesman Abu Obeida saying in an audio message recorded on Saturday that they “are present in all axes of the Gaza Strip” .
“So many Israeli nationals have fallen prey to terror,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told ‘s Wolf Blitzer. At the hands of an organization, this is unprecedented in our history.”
It has been more than 17 years since Israeli soldiers were captured during an attack on Israeli territory. Israel has not seen this kind of infiltration of military bases, towns and kibbutzim since the town-by-town fighting in the 1948 War of Independence.
Here’s what we know about some of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
Hundreds of participants at the Nova Music Festival ran across the Negev desert plains near Urim, a community near the Gaza corridor, trying to escape Hamas gunmen. Social media videos showed some people killed and others captured by armed kidnappers.
Details of the hostages in the attack began to emerge as families recognized relatives in videos circulating online.
In a widely circulated video, an Israeli woman and her boyfriend, identified as Noa Argamani and Avinatan Or, were kidnapped. Among them, Agamani was hoisted to the back of a motorcycle and taken away, while Orr was arrested and forced to walk with his hands behind his back. () was unable to independently verify the video.
Noa Argamani’s roommate Amir Moadi told , “When you see someone who’s so close to you and you know you’re being affected It’s very difficult when you’re treated like this.” He added that he knew about five to six people who had gone missing during the festival.
In another footage confirmed by , an unconscious woman attending the festival can be seen being paraded by armed militants in Gaza. later identified the woman as Louk. has reached out to her family for comment but has not yet received a response.
Her cousin confirmed to The Washington Post that Rock attended the festival.
does not know of Locke’s whereabouts or condition at this time. () did not air the video because it was graphic and disturbing.
“We recognized her by her tattoos, and she had long braids,” Luke’s cousin told The Washington Post. “We have some hope… that Hamas will hold her and others accountable.”
Hamas militants took hostages in the border community of Beeri and in the town of Ofakim, 20 miles east of Gaza, IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. General Daniel Hagari said on Saturday, adding that the two locations were the “main focus” of the unfolding crisis.
He said in a televised speech that both communities had special forces staffed by senior commanders and fighting was taking place in 22 locations.
() located footage of Beeri that appeared to show Hamas militants holding several Israelis captive.
Residents of Beeri and Nir Oz, another community on Israel’s border with Gaza, told the country’s Channel 12 television station that attackers went door to door trying to break into their homes.
Channel 12 also reported that infiltrators had taken hostages in Netiv HaAsara. Israeli authorities did not immediately confirm any details about the reports.
An Israeli mother told that she was on the phone with her children, ages 16 and 12, when she heard gunshots outside and someone trying to break in. Then, on the other end of the phone, she heard the door being broken down.
“I heard the terrorists speaking in Arabic to my teenage children. The youngest told them ‘I’m too young to go,'” the mother said. “Then the phone hung up and the line went dead. That was the last I heard from them.” is not identifying the mother and her child for security reasons.
Another Israeli father told he suspects his wife and young daughter may have been kidnapped while visiting Neil Oz. He said he recognized his wife in a viral video that showed a group of people being loaded onto a truck, flanked by Hamas militants while chants of “Allahu Akbar” were heard.
“I don’t even know what the situation is with the hostages, and it doesn’t look good,” said Yoni Asher, adding that he tracked his wife’s phone and found it in Gaza.
In another video from Gaza’s Shedjaya neighborhood, a barefoot woman was pulled from the trunk of a jeep by a gunman and forced into the back seat of the car. Her face was bleeding and her wrists appeared to be tied behind her back. The jeep also appeared to have an IDF license plate, indicating it may have been stolen and brought into Gaza.
The Qassam Brigades claimed to have captured “dozens” of Israeli soldiers on Saturday.
“We bring good news to our (Palestinian) prisoners and people, the Qassam Brigades have dozens of captured (Israeli) officers and soldiers in their hands,” spokesman Abu Obaida said. posted on Telegram. “They have been secured in secure locations and resistance tunnels.”
Video geolocated and verified by showed at least one Israeli soldier being captured.
The video, posted on Hamas’s official social media account, showed militants rescuing two visibly frightened and shocked soldiers from a disabled tank. It’s unclear from the video how the tank was destroyed, but Hamas has previously used drones to drop bombs on Israeli tanks.
Later, in a brief video clip, one of the soldiers is seen being kicked to the ground by the militants. In the next clip, the soldier can be seen lying motionless on the ground.
The second soldier was taken away by Hamas militants. A third soldier – his face bloodied – lay motionless on the ground near the tank’s tracks. does not know the current whereabouts or condition of the three soldiers.
A second video taken later shows a number of different armed men surrounding the tank. The three soldiers were nowhere to be seen.
Later, armed men pulled a fourth Israeli soldier from the tank. The soldier remained motionless as he was dragged from the side of the tank to the ground. Armed men can be seen stepping on him.