Parents search for children who attended outdoor party attacked by terrorists

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, hasn’t been heard from since 8:11 a.m. this morning, when he sent two messages to his parents: “I love you” and “I’m sorry.”

At the time, Goldberg-Polin’s parents, Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg, didn’t understand the cryptic meaning of the message.

They’d last seen Hersh at 11 p.m. the previous night, after he attended Simhat Torah holiday services with them at their local Jerusalem synagogue and then joined them for dinner with family friends.

“He had a backpack and left at around 11 to join his friend,” said Polin, who didn’t know anything specific about his son’s plans.

The family is religiously observant and doesn’t usually use phones on Shabbat, but after Polin came home early from synagogue Saturday morning, the two reached out to a good friend of their son’s who confirmed that Goldberg-Polin was at an all-night “nature party” near Kibbutz Re’im.

The community is close to the Gaza Strip, in an area where Hamas terrorists attacked civilians, including at the party.

Within several hours, photos of handwritten lists began circulating on social media with the names of party attendees and the locations where some had escaped to, Polin says.

“One list said Yishuv Saad, and his name was on that list, and then it was on the Ofakim list,” Polin says. “But he wasn’t at any of those places.”

Friends were at the couple’s home all day, calling and checking with people they knew in each location, but Goldberg-Polin and his friend haven’t been found anywhere. They called hospitals in the south, including Soroka and Barzilay, without any success.

The Jerusalem police are involved, Polin says, and are taking responsibility for reporting the two missing young men to all police units. Pictures of Polin-Goldberg and his friend are also being circulated on social media.

“They think there’s still a bunch of people hiding in the area,” Polin says, adding that the mother of his son’s friend is inclined to drive down south to look for them, but he advises against it, having heard that roads are closed. “Every time we hear information, we turn over everything we can to find out anything. There’s very little we can actually do.”

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