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Israeli rave site hit by Hamas draws tourists

By Leonardo and Benassatto

NEAR RE'IM, Israel (Reuters) - At the site of the bloodiest incident in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, foreigners and Israelis walk between placards that carry the names and photos of the dead, killed at an open air rave.

Some take videos and pictures on their mobile phones, others weep.

"It's very important to come and see with your own eyes," said Samantha Malcar, from Canada. "You see all these posters of real faces. And you see the destruction. You see these were real people who lost their lives just for coming to a party."

Thousands of young people were partying in the dawn hours of Oct. 7 when the gunmen swept in from Gaza.

According to authorities, 364 people were shot, bludgeoned or burned to death and some were sexually assaulted at the Nova festival in a stretch of tree-dotted brush near Kibbutz Re'im. Around 40 were taken hostage back to Gaza, 5 km (2 miles) away.

Some tourists come on visits organised by civil society groups, others come independently to pay tribute to those killed at the Nova festival.

It was the single most deadly incident in a shock cross-border assault by Hamas in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 were taken hostage.

Israel's subsequent war aimed at eliminating the militant group that rules Gaza has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, health authorities in the enclave say.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Frances Kerry)