JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli security officer could be seen drawing a pistol, his hand shaking violently. Hours earlier that day, Oct. 7, these desolate fields in southern Israel had teemed with thousands of young people dancing to electronic music under the night sky and camping out in tents or mobile homes. Now, it was silent.
The officer peered quickly into one of the trailers. “Who's inside?” he called out in Hebrew, his voice pained. It was empty. He moved onto the rest of the festival grounds, searching for signs of life following the Hamas rampage through the outdoor concert. “It's the police!” he yelled again and again, his voice rising in panic. “Are there any wounded?”
Silence. The officer moved to the outdoor bar. Hovering over the Coca‐Cola coolers and beer-tap levers, he shouted louder, “Wounded?” His camera tilted down.
There were more than a dozen bodies — some encrusted with dirt, others riddled with bullets. They were strewn around the bar and piled on top of each other, hair matted with dark blood, limbs twisted at an unnatural angle. The short shorts with fringe, cut-off T-shirts and stylish white sneakers were reminders that these mangled bodies had been young, carefree partygoers just before dawn.
The graphic and harrowing scene unfolds in a roughly 100-second clip of police body camera footage released Saturday by a first-responder team in southern Israel. It was a chilling depiction of what rescuers encountered in the wake of Hamas' unprecedented attack on the sleepy Israeli farm communities.
One of Hamas' first targets was the Nova music festival near Kibbutz Be’eri, only five kilometers (3 miles) from the Gaza Strip. After surging over the border, Hamas gunmen emptied rounds of live ammunition on the revelers, including hand grenades and mortar fire, killing over 260 people in what has become the biggest civilian massacre in Israeli history.
The body camera footage — and other horrifying videos circulating on social media along with stories from survivors who staggered across fields to find refuge in nearby orchards — add details to what happened that Saturday.
The magnitude of the devastation from Hamas' cross-border assault is still setting in for Israel a month later as the Israeli military unleashes a devastating offensive against Hamas that has killed more than 9,400 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the territory's health officials.
Israel is still in mourning over the 1,400 people killed in the Oct. 7 assault, many of them civilians. Forensic specialists are still working to identify more victims. Families are still scouring for any bits of news about the over 240 Israelis taken hostage in Gaza, including young Israelis from the festival.
After stumbling upon the bodies beneath the bar, the Israeli officer became desperate. "Is there someone with a sign of life? Give us a sign of life,” he pleaded. His voice was no longer frantic, but thrumming with sorrow.
"Somebody, please! Can someone answer?”
There was no answer.