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'He might be hiding somewhere, scared to come out'

October 12, 2023 09:01 IST
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Ben Binyamin Cohen is among the many Israeli youth missing since the Hamas attacked the Nova music festival on Saturday, October 7. His uncle Simon spoke to A Ganesh Nadar/

IMAGE: Israeli soldiers walk through the remains of Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

On Saturday, October 7, 2023, morning the world woke up to horrifying videos coming in from Israel.

The militant organisation Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip had launched an all-out attack on Israel. Hamas fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel, followed by a ground attack by heavily armed militants on the civilian population near the Gaza wall.

Through Friday night and early Saturday morning, some 3,500 young women and men were dancing at the Nova music festival to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The festival was held in a dusty field outside Re’im kibbutz, about 5.5 km from the wall that separates Gaza from southern Israel.

The revellers had been dancing through the previous night and early morning. As dawn broke, hordes of Hamas militants arrived on the scene in trucks and on bikes armed with AK-47 guns.

They fired on the unarmed revellers and attacked those who tried to flee. Some 260 youth died in the carnage at the festival and many are still missing as anxious families wait for news of their near ones.

Ben Binyamin Cohen, 27, is among those who was at the Nova music festival. He has a shop and also does reconstruction work for clients. He was among those who tried to escape the Hamas attack.

In the melee he found his car and tried to get away. The Hamas militants fired indiscriminately at his car. Ben then got out of his car and kept running.

He has been missing since then.

His uncle Simon, speaking from Israel, tells, "The army has since cleared the area. They have identified all the dead bodies; they have separated our civilians from the militants. There are no bodies still to be identified. We are still waiting for any news about him."

"He might be hiding somewhere, scared to come out," Simon says with hope.

Simon lives about 30 km away from Gaza, but his nephew lived with his family very close to Gaza. "We know that they kidnapped people, but no one knows how many, some say a hundred and some say two hundred. They have taken them back to Gaza and the army is still searching."

Hamas has threatened that it will execute a hostage for every bomb the Israelis drop on Gaza. This has not deterred the Israeli Defence Force who have attacked Gaza brutally after cutting off electricity, water, gas and blocked all exit routes.

"We can only hope and pray that we hear from Ben soon," says Simon, a voice of hope resonating through the murderous mayhem on both Israeli and Palestinian sides.

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