Palestinian paramedic missing after Hamas attack at Israel music festival

Ambulance driver Awad Dawarshah, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, has not been heard from since Saturday

Awad Dawarshah, 23, is missing after working as a paramedic at the Nova music festival in southern Israel. Photo: supplied
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An Arab paramedic from northern Israel is among the hundreds of people missing since the Israel-Gaza war began on Saturday, a relative has confirmed to The National.

Awad Dawarshah, 23, was working at the Supernova music festival, where 250 people were killed and dozens taken into Gaza on Saturday morning. His family are now desperate for any information on his whereabouts.

“This pains me to say, but we don't have a single thread of verified information about Awad's fate,” his cousin Saeed Dawarshah told The National from the village of Iksal, near Nazareth. “We've had no information from authorities.”

“We've not stopped contacting hospitals, the Shin Bet and the army … It's a waiting game, there is nothing we can do but wait, knowing a mother and father are anticipating news. The lack of information is adding to our fear and anxiety.”

About 70 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been killed or reported missing since Saturday, according to rights groups estimates.

Several are believed to be among the hostages taken into Gaza.

“We lost all contact with him on Saturday morning. We have no idea about his fate, his condition,” his father Musa said in a video posted online. We don't know if he is among the corpses.”

The ambulance driver was contracted to work at the festival and arrived at the site, near, Kibbutz Re'im, on Thursday – a day before it was attacked.

In photos shared with The National, Mr Dawarshah can be seen tending to injured festivalgoers the night before the attack.

About 2,000 people have been killed since Saturday in the worst violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades.

Israeli leaders have said such violence has not been seen against the Jewish community since the Holocaust, while Palestinian officials have accused Israel of a genocidal attack as the army pounds the besieged Gaza Strip, leaving about two million people without access to water or electricity amid regular air strikes.

The attack on the music festival was one of the largest reported attacks in southern Israel, with about 250 bodies found after Hamas militants went “tree to tree” shooting people, according to survivor accounts.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, some of whom were internally displaced in 1948, make up around 20 per cent of Israel's population and live mostly in the north, south and in villages near the Green Line, which separates Israel from the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian villages split across the Green Line have been affected by the violence in Gaza, with rocket fire killing two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank village of Baqa Al Sharqiyah on Tuesday night.

Mr Dawarshah's brother and other family members have travelled to the south to look for the paramedic in hospitals inundated with the wounded.

“We are a very tight-knit family,” Saeed said.

In footage shared by the family and circulated on Hebrew media, the ambulance used by the young man can be seen heading towards the Gaza Strip after reports it was stolen.

Seven Palestinian citizens from the southern Negev desert are also missing, according to information from Waleed Al Hwashla, a member of the Knesset and the Arab Emergency Authority, which has set up crisis rooms in the south to assist people with dead and missing relatives.

Many are from Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in the south.

Some groups have said about 50 people are still missing.

Sixteen people have been killed in air strikes on Bedouin towns and villages, the Negev Forum for Co-existence told The National.

“Forty-six others are still missing. Some were taken to Gaza with the other hostages,” Chloe Portheault, the forum's international advocacy co-ordinator said.

Updated: October 12, 2023, 11:40 AM