An Irish-Israeli woman remains unaccounted for after Hamas militants launched a major surprise offensive in Israel.
Kim Damti (22) was attending an outdoor music festival in Re'im, in southern Israel, when the first rocket barrage hit at around 6:30 a.m. on Sat, Oct 7.
Her mother Jennifer, from Portlaoise, in County Laois, said she last spoke to Damti over the phone shortly after the first rocket barrage struck. At the time her daughter and her friend were running toward a car to flee the barrage. The family has not heard from her since.
Hamas gunmen opened fire on partygoers as they fled the scene, leaving dozens dead. Several bodies are yet to be identified, while other partygoers have been taken hostage by armed militants and taken across the border into nearby Gaza.
Around 250 people who attended an outdoor music festival near Gaza were killed in an attack by Hamas militants at the weekend, a volunteer who helped collect the bodies has said. Drone footage showed the destruction in the aftermath of the attack | More: https://t.co/gfHqxQc0At pic.twitter.com/U1UVwOraTz— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 9, 2023
Speaking to US outlet ABC News from her home in Tel Aviv, Jennifer said she is desperately seeking news about her daughter.
"You can’t sleep. All I can think about is where she is, if she’s suffering, if she’s still alive. I just want her back," Jennifer told ABC News.
“[There's] so many other mothers here today. I’m not the only one. Everybody is missing somebody.
She added that her daughter didn't realize that there were "seven or eight" vans "full of terrorists" at the festival when the attack took place.
"They just shot everywhere. They just shot them, slaughtered them like ducks, and that’s the reason I’m here, because I want the world to condemn this behavior. I didn’t bring my children up to hate anybody," Jennifer told ABC News.
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been in communication with Damti's family and is providing consular assistance, Tánaiste (Deputy Leader) and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has confirmed.
Martin said the DFA does not intend to comment specifically on the case at this stage.
"Could I say that, as more information is revealed, I think the full horror of the crimes that were committed yesterday by Hamas are laid bare," Martin said.
"Hundreds and hundreds of innocent people slaughtered in the most savage of ways."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Irish Embassy in Israel is aware of the case, adding that the Embassy will provide consular assistance to any Irish or dual-Irish citizens caught up in the attacks.
The DFA said it has been in contact with a small number of Irish citizens in Gaza and urged Irish citizens to avoid traveling all travel to southern Israel.
It additionally advised anyone traveling in or out of Israel's Ben Gurion airport to check for updates from their airline.
"This is a developing situation, with the potential for escalation. Any citizen currently in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territory should register with the Embassy."
More than 1,100 people have died in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, with Israeli forces hitting more than 500 targets in the blockaded Gaza Strip during clashes on Sunday night.
The Israeli military has said it struck hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza overnight. The Palestinian health ministry said more than 400 people, including scores of children, had been killed over the weekend | Read more: https://t.co/4iOuO76moX pic.twitter.com/PnY25Bgqnp— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 9, 2023
Israeli fighter jets, helicopters, and artillery struck 500 targets allegedly linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihads, including the reported residence of senior Hamas official Ruhi Mashtaa.
The United Nations has confirmed that over 123,000 people have been displaced in Gaza since the outbreak of the fighting on Saturday morning.
"Over 123,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza, mostly due to fear, protection concerns and the destruction of their homes," the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement.
More than 73,000 people are currently sheltering in schools, OCHA added.
Israeli air strikes on Sunday hit housing blocks, tunnels, and a mosque, killing more than 400 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Dozens of children were killed in the attacks, according to the Health Ministry.
Israeli media estimates that 700 people were killed in the Hamas attacks on Saturday morning, with Military spokesperson Daniel Hagari describing it as "the worst massacre of innocent civilians in Israel's history".
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the Gaza Strip will pay a "heavy" price for the recent Hamas attacks, stating that it will "change reality for generations".
Several international airlines have suspended flights to Tel Aviv in response to the Hamas attacks and said flights would remain grounded until conditions improved.