At least 260 people were killed at an Israeli psy-trance rave targeted as part of Hamas’ surprise offensive this weekend. The number is expected to climb in what is already one of the most lethal concert events in modern history.
ZAKA, an Israeli search-and-rescue organization, estimates thousands were in attendance at “Supernova,” an event held in the Negev region. The bodies of at least 260 people were removed from the festival site, according to ZAKA’s numbers. Hamas has claimed they hold captive more than 100 hostages, many abducted from the festival site. Video footage from the festival that appears to have been posted by Hamas themselves shows several attendees pleading for their lives as they are dragged away on motorcycles and on foot.
CBS News warns that the death toll from the attack on the festival is expected to climb as “other paramedic teams were working the area.” Israeli Channel 12 reports “dozens” of bodies recovered at the scene which were taken away for identification.
Who Organized the Supernova Rave?
The Times of Israel described Supernova as an “all-night rave” held “near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the border.” The event was billed as “the most powerful and meaningful psy trance music festival in one of the most recognized and active psy trance nations,” originating from the Universo Paralello in Brazil. A posting for the event on an Israeli ticketing site described Supernova as “a truly exceptional and unprecedented event that will take place for the very first time in Israel.”
Attendees were not told of the location of the festival until a few hours before it began, according to the Washington Post. The site was just 3 miles from the fence erected by the Israeli government around the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2 million Palestinians pressed into approximately 141 square miles.
The New York Times quotes Hanoch Hai Cohen, who was in attendance at the event, as saying that the music was so loud that he “saw the rockets before he heard their sound“:
The Times claims the festival attack was not opportunistic but “premeditated” and “highly coordinated.”
Haaretz reports that it took the military five hours to arrive on the scene, with festival attendees hiding in bushes and a nearby orchard or playing dead.
The death toll reported thus far would make the Supernova festival among the most deadly in history, and it’s hard to recall past incidents matching both the nature and the scope of the attack. The Station Nightclub fire on February 20 2023 killed 100 people as fires from pyrotechnics raced through the club in just over six minutes. Pyrotechnics were also the cause of 245 deaths in the Kiss nightclub fire in Brazil in 2013. Ninety people were killed by Islamic State terrorists at the Bataclan Theater Massacre in November 2015, part of a wider attack on targets throughout Paris that left 130 dead and 250 wounded. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 resulted in 49 dead and 53 wounded after Omar Mateen entered the LGBTQ+ club and began shooting, he claimed in a phone call, on behalf of the Islamic State. Six years ago, Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, killing 60 and wounding 413 people; police and prosecutors have failed to establish a concrete motive for the attack.
The overall death toll of the Hamas offensive has climbed to over 700 thus far; 400 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes launched in retaliation. Both numbers will likely increase significantly over the coming days.