A British citizen feared abducted by Hamas militants to Gaza said he was trying to evacuate people on a quad bike in a last desperate voice message sent as gunmen stormed the Israeli festival where he was working.
Jake Marlowe, 26, a carpenter by trade, was employed as a security guard at the Nova music festival just six kilometres east of Gaza, which was in full swing Saturday when Hamas launched the biggest attack on Israel in decades.
He is among dozens of festival attendees who are missing, kidnapped or presumed dead, multiple witnesses and family members told The Independent. On Sunday night, Israel’s search and rescue agency said more than 260 people had died.
“He last spoke to his mother at 4.30am UK time, saying he saw rockets [fired from Gaza] and that he even filmed it,” Daniel Aboudy, a friend of Mr Marlowe, told The Independent from London. “Then 45 minutes later they spoke briefly but since then his phone hasn’t rung.”
He added: “Another friend forwarded a voice message from Jake and his friend, as they were told to evacuate.”
In the voice message, Mr Marlowe said he and a friend, who he named as Shlomi, were desperately trying to get people to safety.
“Me and Shlomi are right by Gaza, bro,” he said, according to a transcript of the voice message shared with The Independent.
“We are seeing it in front of our eyes, we are rounding up the people from the party now, we are on an ATV [quad bike] and we are telling everyone to get the f*** outta there.”
Israel’s embassy to the UK confirmed Mr Marlowe is missing in a statement released on Saturday. Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, earlier told Sky News a British citizen was in Gaza but she did not name the individual.
His mother, Lisa, told the Jewish News he was providing security at a party and she last heard from her son via text message at 5.30am UK time (7.30am local).
“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,” she said.
“I don’t know what we’re supposed to be doing. I’ve got people in Israel phoning the home guard command, others talking to others, everyone’s just trying to help as much as they can.”
Mr Aboudy added: “His mum is in a massive state of shock. The moment she found out, she gave me a missed call at 1pm yesterday. We have spoken to the Home Front Command in Israel and then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but so far we don’t know anything.”
The 26-year-old is feared to be among dozens of people who are missing from the festival and may have been taken to Gaza by Hamas, who blew up a border fence and stormed Israel in the early hours of Saturday via land, sea and air. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu responded by declaring the country was now “at war”.
On Sunday, one video showed the mutilated body of one woman, identified as German tattoo artist Shani Louk by her friends, being paraded around in her underwear around Gaza. It is believed she had been attending the same outdoor music festival.
Israeli military officials told The Independent the attack “ was completely unprecedented” and they were fearful for the lives of the hostages. They also said they had no confirmed numbers and were working on their safe return.