Israeli couple in widely shared photo not killed during Hamas militants' attack on music festival

Hundreds of young Israelis and foreigners were gunned down by Hamas militants in a bloody attack on a music festival in southern Israel, close to Gaza, on October 7. A photo circulating in Indian social media posts, however, does not show a couple killed during the attack. The woman in the photo told AFP that she and her partner are both safe and with their families.

The photo was posted here on X, formerly Twitter, on October 10 and has since been shared more than 1,100 times.

"This photo was captured by Amit and Nir, a couple attending a music concert that night in Israel, as they hid in the bushes to avoid Hamas terrorists. Hundreds of young Israelis were murdered at that party," the Hindi-language post says.

"Before they died, they captured this memory on their mobile phone to show the world the barbarity of Hamas and the last image of their love. May God give them salvation."

Hamas militants who streamed into Israel by land, air and sea beneath a deluge of rockets on October 7 gunned down hundreds of young Israelis and foreigners who were attending a music festival near Kibbutz Reim, which is close to Gaza.

The militants killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials. Israel says around 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed in clashes before its army regained control of the area under attack.

More than 4,600 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in relentless Israeli bombardments in retaliation for the attacks by the Palestinian Islamist militant group, according to the latest toll from the Hamas health ministry in Gaza.

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Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on October 12, 2023

The photo was also shared on Facebook here and here with similar misleading claims.

Comments on the posts suggest some believed the couple had been killed during the attack.

"May God provide peace to their souls," reads one comment.

Another said: "May God grant salvation to this couple and destroy these tyrants."

The woman in the picture, however, told AFP that both she and her partner are safe.

'Safe at home with family'

A reverse image search on Google led to the same photo posted on the Instagram account of Amit Bar here on October 9 -- two days after the attack (archived link).

"It is impossible to summarise what we went through there without Ziv, and until he is back home, nothing is over. But we are lucky to be here," she wrote in Hebrew.

"Suddenly you decided to take a selfie, I got angry, I didn't understand the connection now, but I said that at least if we die, our family will have a memento of us until the last moment.

"You shielded me with your body and I think about all the other couples with a different ending than ours... The scenes there are incomprehensible and it is impossible to digest what we experienced, we just continue to pray that Ziv will return home to us."

She also tagged her partner Nir De Jorno in the post.

He replied: "My wife, can't imagine what would happen to me if something happened to you... All that remains is to pray that our Ziv returns safely."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (left) and the photo posted by Bar on her Instagram account (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (left) and the photo posted by Amit on her Instagram account (right)

After posting the photo on Instagram, Bar granted interviews to several news organisations, including here and here (archived links here and here).

She told the US channel ABC News the photo was taken after several hours of hiding in the bushes.

The report reads: "Bar said they understood it could be their last photo, saying that 'at least if we die, our family will have a souvenir'."

Bar also told AFP that both she and her partner are now fine.

"We are both alive at home with our families," she said on October 12, but added that they had been separated during the ordeal from their friend Ziv Hagbi, who is mentioned in her post.

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