'Our family is devastated,' relatives say after music festival victim's body identified

There were 260 bodies recovered from the Supernova music festival site, which was ambushed by Hamas militants on October 7

Evgenia Kozlov with a portrait of her son, Andrey, 27, and his girlfriend, Jenifer Master. Mr Kozlov, a Russian citizen, was abducted by Hamas militants. AP
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Hadar Choshen, 27, went missing on October 7, the day Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 200 hostages.

An IT engineer from the city of Petach Tikva near Tel Aviv, Ms Choshen was at the Supernova music festival in Kibbutz Re’im near the Gaza border when the militants attacked.

More than 260 bodies were later recovered from the site, according to rescue agencies.

Ms Choshen’s parents were hoping for a miracle, that their daughter would still be alive somewhere in Gaza, but three weeks later, they received the dreaded news.

“A week ago, we were informed by Israeli authorities that Hadar is among those killed. They identified her dead body. They retrieved a pair of earrings from her and handed it over to us, ” her aunt, Yifat, told The National.

After their disappearance at the music festival, many Israeli families have found a sense of closure in knowing what had happened to their loved ones.

The Hamas attack has led to the Israeli bombardment on Gaza, now in its fourth week.

The Palestinian death toll is more than 9,500 as Israel continues an aggressive military campaign by air and land.

Israeli authorities say that forensic experts and doctors are struggling to identify bodies of victims, resorting to dental records and genetic testing to identify bodies in many cases, such as Ms Choshen.

“They had to conduct a DNA test to identify her body. It has been weeks and we were told that her body was disfigured beyond recognition,” her aunt said.

According to the family, the victim was shot several times inside a shelter at a bus stop where she and several others were sheltering.

“They hunted them down. They shot at them and threw grenades inside the shelter where about 30 people had crammed in to hide,” she added.

We knew the worst could have happened to her. But we did not want to believe it. Our family is devastated. My sister, who is a widow, is inconsolable. But at least, we have a closure. We can mourn
Yifat, relative of Israeli victim

“We knew the worst could have happened to her. But we did not want to believe it. Our family is devastated. My sister, who is a widow, is inconsolable. But at least we have closure. We can mourn.”

Another Israeli family was informed that the body of 22-year-old Noa, who also went missing in the violence, had been identified.

“We received the bad news 10 days ago. They found my sister’s body from the music festival venue,” said her brother, who asked not to be identified.

“The funeral was two weeks ago. There is some solace that her body was recovered. We can at least grieve. We know what happened to her now,” he said.

Noa’s family had received a WhatsApp message from her saying that she was at a “safe house” soon after Hamas ambushed the music festival.

“That was around 7am. We never heard from her after that. Later, we heard from two of her friends who survived the attack, that she and some other people were hiding in a shelter that was attacked by Hamas.

“But as we came to know that several hundreds were kidnapped, we had some hope.”

Her brother said that it was perhaps better that she did not end up as a hostage.

Even as the Israeli army is pushing into parts of Gaza in what it says is an attempt to defeat Hamas and free the hostages, many fear the ground operations will further endanger the lives of their family members.

Early last week, Shani Louk, 22, a German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip on October 7, was confirmed dead.

Her family was later informed that volunteers had found some of her remains. She was declared dead, but her body is in Gaza.

“She is dead, we know she didn’t suffer, we also know a minute before the murderers came, she was dancing, she was happy, she prayed, she went wild, with all her friends around her, and she had fun,” Nissim Louk, the woman's father, told Channel 13 after she was declared dead.

Updated: November 02, 2023, 2:30 PM