ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Twins helped organize a rave in southern Israel. Neither has been seen alive since

Osher Vaknin buried in Jerusalem after being murdered at Supernova festival near Re’im, while no trace of Michael Vaknin has emerged since Saturday, as family prays he’ll be found

Twins Osher and Michael Vaknin (Courtesy)
Twins Osher and Michael Vaknin (Courtesy)

Twin brothers Osher and Michael Vaknin loved to organize rave parties across Israel, gathering like-minded Israelis and visitors to dance all day and night in the desert to techno music.

The pair were among the organizers of the “Supernova” music festival held Saturday near the Gaza Strip, which was targeted by Hamas terrorists who slaughtered at least 260 revelers and took an unknown number hostage. It is the last place the brothers were seen alive.

Osher was killed in the attack, and buried on Tuesday in Jerusalem. As of Wednesday, no signs of Michael have emerged since the weekend assault.

In the living room of their family home in Jerusalem, their loved ones were sitting shiva — the Jewish seven-day mourning ritual, grieving for Osher while still hoping for a sign of life of Michael.

“He’s coming home. I hope he hasn’t been kidnapped. It’ll kill us. It’s very, very painful,” said the twins’ sister Ausa Meir, 32.

Osher was killed as “he stopped the bullets for a friend, for a brother,” said Ausa, a French-Israeli mother of three.

Burnt cars are left behind at the site of the attack three days earlier by Palestinian terrorists on the Supernova desert music near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel, on October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Like thousands of Israeli men, her husband, an army reservist, was called to the front on Saturday morning. Israel has called up more than 300,000 reservists as part of its military response to the Hamas onslaught.

The rave event organized by the twins had drawn thousands of party-goers from Friday to the desert site close to Kibbutz Re’im, less than five kilometers (three miles) from the Gaza Strip.

But it turned into a horror show on Saturday morning when Hamas terrorists crossed the border on motorcycles, vans or speed boats, launching their devastating offensive on Israel. Around 260 people were killed at the site alone. Some were shot dead as they tried to escape. Others were abducted into Gaza as captives.

Aerial images obtained by AFP showed dozens of burnt-out cars on the side of the road leading to the festival site.

Sunny Vaknin, Osher’s widow, said she went to search for her husband on Monday.

“We thought he was still alive, we had hope. Finally, I found our car… and saw what had happened,” she said. “The whole car was covered in blood. All the front windows were shattered. Full of bullet holes,” the widow added, shaking as she recounted the violent fate met by her husband, who was in his thirties.

“Everything was covered in blood. Pieces of flesh. Everything, my daughter’s car seat was covered in blood.”

An aerial picture shows the abandoned site of the weekend attack on the Supernova desert music festival by Palestinian terrorists near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel on October 10, 2023. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

The widow said a friend who survived the massacre had recalled seeing Osher “get out of the car to help people.”

“He was my whole life, really,” said Sunny, describing her husband and brother-in-law as “great people” who “always wanted to make people happy.”

Around her, a group of young people, including some who survived the ordeal, sought to comfort her, voicing hopes that Michael is still alive.

“We didn’t find any traces of his DNA at the site,” said Sunny, voicing hope that the world would hear her plea and help to locate her brother-in-law.

Not all the identities of those abducted by the terrorists are known or have been made public. The channels of negotiation or discussion over their fate have so far been remained secretive.

Meir refused categorically to countenance the possibility that Michael had suffered the same fate as Osher.

Among the young people who were mourning with the family were survivors of the deadly attack. But they were too traumatized to talk about it. Passing joints around, they sought to comfort each other.

One of the family’s friends, who declined to be named, said the brothers were known for organizing music parties in Israel, including “the biggest rave party” in the country.

At the synagogue round the corner from their home, the twins’ mother received visitors who had turned up to offer support.

Sitting on a low stool, according to the Jewish mourning tradition, she prayed for the return of her son Michael, who perhaps is still unaware that he has lost his twin brother forever.

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