Jake Marlowe: British citizen missing after Hamas gunmen storm Israeli music festival and drag away hostages

Thousands fled on Saturday as Hamas gunmen stormed rave during surprise cross-border attack on Israel

Andy Gregory
Sunday 08 October 2023 13:56 BST
Barrage of rockets launched towards Israel from Gaza Strip

A British citizen is missing after Hamas militants attacked a music festival and seized partygoers as hostages during their unprecedented incursion across the border with Israel, the country’s embassy in the UK has said.

Israel has declared itself to be at war and has launched relentless retaliatory strikes on Gaza after it was caught off-guard by the heavily coordinated incursion on Saturday morning, which saw Hamas breach the heavily-fortified border and open fire on Israelis living nearby.

Thousands of partygoers fled a rave near the border as it was attacked by militants, who were filmed seizing one woman and taking her away on a motorbike.

Jake Marlowe was last heard from when he messaged his mother on Saturday morning (Jake Marlowe/Facebook)

British citizen Jake Marlowe, who has not been heard from since Saturday morning, is missing near Gaza after the attack on the festival, the Israeli embassy said. “We don’t know yet if taken hostage or killed,” the embassy told The Independent.

The 26-year-old’s mother, Lisa, said her son had been providing security at the rave in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im when the surprise attack unfolded, with Hamas firing thousands of rockets into Israel nearly 50 years to the day since the outset of the brutal Yom Kippur war.

“He was doing security at this rave yesterday and called me at 4.30am to say all these rockets were flying over,” Ms Marlowe told Jewish News. “Then, at about 5.30am, he texted to say, ‘signal very bad, everything OK, will keep you updated I promise you,’ and that he loves me”.

Ms Marlowe said her son had not been online for hours, adding: “I’ve left him lots of WhatsApp messages but I’ve not been able to leave him a [voice] message… I can’t bear to listen to the phone just ringing and not being answered.”

Cabinet minister Mark Harper told Sky News the UK was “working very closely and have been in contact with the Israeli government about any British citizens” in the region, but said he had no “specific information” on the reports that Mr Marlowe is missing.

Footage showed the festival in full flow shortly before it was stormed by Hamas militants (screengrab)

“My own department is working closely with British airlines that fly in that part of the world to make sure they’ve all the information they have to make sure they can continue to keep their passengers safe,” Mr Harper told the BBC.

Terrified Israeli residents living near the Gaza border hid in their homes and barricaded themselves in safe rooms on Saturday, as civilians and soldiers alike were shot by Hamas in the streets outside, with others seized and taken to Gaza to be held as hostages.

At least 300 Israelis have been killed, including 26 soldiers, according to Israeli media, while Palestinian authorities have reported at least 313 fatalities as Israel launched relentless retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

One woman who was among thousands who fled the rave attacked by the gunmen described surviving only by playing dead in a car after the driver trying to help her escape was shot at point-blank range.

“I couldn’t move my legs,” she told Reuters from hospital. “Soldiers came and took us away to the bushes.”

Harrowing footage showed a 25-year-old woman being driven away on a Palestinian gunman’s motorcycle as she pleaded “don’t kill me”. Her boyfriend, who was also in the footage being dragged away, is also believed to have been taken hostage, his brother told Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 News.

Noa Argamani was filmed being seized from the festival on a motorbike (screengrab)

Another attendee at the festival, Gili Yoskovich, told the BBC how she hid under a tree for three hours while gunmen with automatic weapons roamed the area shooting all in their sight.

“They were going tree by tree and shooting. Everywhere. From two sides. I saw people were dying all around. I was very quiet. I didn’t cry, I didn’t do anything,” said Ms Yoskovich.

“But I was on the one hand breathing, saying: ‘okay, I’m going to die. It’s okay, just breathe, just close your eyes,’ because it was shooting everywhere, it was very very close to me ... They were in the area for three hours. No-one was there, no-one.”

Gili Yoskovich said: ‘How come we were there for such a long time and no one was there? No army, no police. Nothing’ (BBC screengrab)

She added: “I heard some helicopters, I was sure the army would come down with helicopters and ropes and go down into this field and save us. But no-one was there. Just all these terrorists.”

Upon finally hearing voices in Hebrew, Ms Yoskovich was rescued by car, telling the BBC: “I was the first one to get out of the field. It took others two or three more hours to get out [and] all the way people were dying – all the way on the road, young people.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said they would not comment on individual cases but added: “However, we can confirm we are in contact with – and assisting – the families of several individuals in Israel and the OPTs (Occupied Palestinian Territories).

“The safety of all British nationals continues to be our utmost priority and we urge everyone to continue to follow our travel advice which is updated regularly.”

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