Internet InfoMedia israelis mark memorial day among portraits of those lost at the nova festival ground

In a sandy clearing near Israel’s border with Gaza, soldiers, civilians and tourists wandered silently through a dense thicket of poles. Affixed to the poles were portraits of the hundreds of people who came there to dance late one night last October and never made it home.

As Israelis observed Memorial Day, the country’s annual commemoration for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks, many were drawn to the site of the Tribe of Nova music festival, a rave dedicated to peace and love that was interrupted around sunrise on Oct. 7 by a barrage of rockets from Gaza, signaling the start of the Hamas-led cross-border assault.

In the horror that followed, at least 360 festivalgoers were slain — nearly a third of the roughly 1,200 people killed in southern Israel that day, according to the Israeli authorities. Gunmen who surged across the border surrounded the Nova site, ambushed people as they tried to escape in their cars and hunted them down in bomb shelters along the road or as they fled across furrowed fields.

Observing Israel’s first national day of mourning after the deadliest day in the 76-year history of the state, and with the country still at war in Gaza, many people came to the Nova memorial site beginning on Sunday to remember the dead and those festivalgoers who were taken hostage to Gaza and are still being held there.

A group of people in a solemn gathering. Some hold Israeli flags and photographs of people.
Mourners gathered at the music festival site for Memorial Day on Monday.Leo Correa/Associated Press

On Sunday, a solemn hush was broken at times by Israeli flags snapping in the wind, and by the sharp cracks of artillery fire from Israeli troop positions nearby.

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