The attack on the music festival in Israel will give many parents sleepless nights - Jayne Dowle

Give or take the two-hour time difference between the UK and Israel, at the same time as Hamas paratroopers started to descend from the desert skies above the Supernova music festival, my daughter was turning 18 and at a rave in Sheffield. Her first one.

As dawn broke, she made her way home in an Uber with her boyfriend, safe and sound, although I slept on the sofa just to be sure of hearing the key in the front door.

For hundreds of parents in Israel, and in other countries including the UK, that moment of relief will never come.

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Their children, at least 260 of them attending a music event billed as dedicated to 'friends, love and infinite freedom’, were hunted like animals by extremist Palestinian Hamas militants and killed in cold blood.

The Palace of Westminster is lit up in the colours of Israel's flag for victims and hostages of Hamas attacks. PIC: Lucy North/PA WireThe Palace of Westminster is lit up in the colours of Israel's flag for victims and hostages of Hamas attacks. PIC: Lucy North/PA Wire
The Palace of Westminster is lit up in the colours of Israel's flag for victims and hostages of Hamas attacks. PIC: Lucy North/PA Wire

Countless others were injured, or kidnapped to be used as bargaining tools when the Israeli army seeks retribution by firing rockets and dropping bombs on Palestinian territories. Many, many more, will live with the trauma for the rest of their lives.

Among the victims was 30-year-old Shani Louk, a German tourist and tattoo artist. It’s believed that this young woman was taken, killed and then paraded naked on the back of a pick-up truck through the main streets of Gaza City.

No parent, learning this, can help but feel sick to their stomach. A few thousand miles away and that could be our daughter; one minute dancing under the stars with her friends, the next violated and killed with such terrible and cynical purpose.

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It’s been reported that Shani had phoned her mother as the barrage started, to tell her she was heading to a car and a “safe location”.

That was the last her family heard from her.

Anxious families, meanwhile, desperate to track down their missing children, are queuing up with hairbrushes and toothbrushes to share DNA, to help authorities identify recovered human remains from the festival site.

They speak of the desperate phone calls of terrified young people, peppered with gunfire and screams in the background, then ominous silence.

Like many people in the UK, I can claim no special knowledge of the arcane politics of this particular corner of the Middle East. Neither do I identify with either side.

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I just despair that this can be happening in our world; peace-loving festival-goers deliberately targeted, and whole families wiped out with machine-gun fire in their own homes in the towns of Southern Israel, as Hamas made their terrifying presence felt over the border with the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave facing the eastern Mediterranean.

Now Israel exercises its right to self-defence, mobilises 300,000 army reservists to put Gaza under siege, and many blameless Palestinians will die too.

This Supernova massacre, coming at the end of the week-long Sukkot religious festival, is the most significant breach of Israel’s borders since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The past history and current reality of the political situation here is riven with horror on both sides; many Israelis hold their Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responsible for allowing this Hamas attack to happen.

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The Israeli government, it would appear, had no prior knowledge that the Supernova attack was about to happen, and it’s reported that its military forces took five hours to reach the festival, whilst defenceless civilians tried desperately to hide from the gunmen.

Our own PM, Rishi Sunak, called a meeting of the emergency COBRA committee, but he knows that Western politicians will have to tread more carefully than if they were stepping through a minefield.

There are so many vested interests that could create a conflagration; it’s said, for example, that Iranian Muslim extremists helped Hamas to plan the Supernova attack.

So much happens beyond anyone’s control, and that is the truly frightening aspect for us all.

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How terribly sad this makes me feel, as I think of all the millions of apolitical young people in the world, who never asked for any of this.

My daughter and I have a little list of countries we would like to visit together, before she goes to university and starts on her own journey through life. Israel was on that list, because we would like to see Jerusalem. How I feel about that particular trip today, I can’t quite put into words. But if we ever do make it, I will light a candle and say a prayer, with no religious denomination, for every innocent young person caught up in bitter conflict across the world.