Massacre at Supernova: The Ongoing Conflict in Ashkelon

Massacre at Supernova: The Ongoing Conflict in Ashkelon
As Israel intensifies airstrikes in Gaza, there’s growing speculation that a ground invasion could be coming.

The violent upheaval between Hamas and the Israeli military has intensified in recent days, plunging the city of Ashkelon into a scene of chaos and horror. Located less than 15 kilometres from the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon has transformed from a peaceful community to the very frontlines of an escalating war zone.

A City Under Siege

According to CBC News, the emergency department at the Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon has become a sanctuary amidst the relentless missile attacks from both sides. The constant hum of artillery and missile fire is juxtaposed with the occasional sirens from Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, a stark reminder of the looming threats.

The streets of Ashkelon are now eerily quiet, with most of its 150,000 residents taking refuge in their homes. The evidence of recent rocket strikes is clear, with new impact craters appearing daily in residential neighbourhoods.

Raz Cohen, 24, survived Saturday’s massacre at the Supernova music festival in the Negev desert. He’s pictured Monday at the Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon. (Jean-Francois Bisson/CBC)

Harrowing Survivor Accounts

Raz Cohen, a 24-year-old Ashkelon resident, recounted to CBC News the terrifying moment when Hamas militants stormed the Supernova music festival. “It was something like 200 people that ran away in the open area — and they shot at all of us,” Cohen revealed. His chilling recollection paints a graphic scene: “I saw people get shot in the head, in the leg, in the shoulder. They died before my eyes.”

Although the death toll at the festival is estimated at 260, Cohen, who hid motionless in a forested area for six hours during the attack, fears the number could be even higher. “We have forgiven them (Hamas) for many problems. But this is not a problem we can forgive them for. We need to attack and attack strongly,” he expressed.

Dr. Tomar Aaronson is an orthopedic surgeon. He says his training did not prepare him for the brutality that he witnessed in the aftermath of the Hamas attack. (Jean-Francois Bisson/CBC)

Medical Workers Bear Witness

“Welcome to hell. I have never seen such brutality,” remarked Dr. Tomer Aaronson, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Barzilai Medical Centre, echoing Cohen’s sentiment. In an interview with CBC News, he described the heart-wrenching scenes of entire families being butchered in their homes.

With the number of gunshot victims slowly decreasing, Dr. Aaronson took a moment to reflect, foreseeing a long-lasting trauma for the nation. “This is going to take decades (to get past),” he stated.

Israeli police officers evacuate a family from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Civilians in The Crossfire

In Gaza, health authorities have reported an alarming number of casualties due to Israel’s bombing, with over 500 killed and 2,700 injured. According to witnesses on the ground, the Israeli response has been the most ferocious air assault they’ve ever experienced.

Amidst this backdrop, CBC News encountered 57-year-old Osnat Yofan Shriki in the hospital, injured by a Hamas rocket that struck near her apartment building. Shriki’s perspective encapsulated the sentiments of many: “It wasn’t soldiers (they killed). It was civilians — people like us. Mothers and children.”

Israel has declared war with Hamas after the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack that killed hundreds. The National breaks down how Hamas went seemingly undetected by Israeli intelligence for months and days leading up to the attack and what could happen next.

The Uncertain Future

Despite the devastation, Ashkelon’s residents, like Shriki, strive to remain hopeful, envisioning a future where they live in peace. However, the current circumstances cast a shadow of doubt over such hopes.