An American man sent a chilling text message to his parents while he attended a desert party in Israel – moments before Hamas terrorists launched their brutal surprise attack.
Hersh Golberg-Polin, 23, texted his mother and father ‘I love you, I’m sorry’ at 8.11am on Saturday – as callous Palestinian militants declared war on Israel, took dozens of people as hostage and killed hundreds during the Jewish high holiday.
Born in Berkeley, California, Hersh and his family moved to Jerusalem when he was just seven-years-old.
His family have no idea where he is – and they are now fearing for his life, after he spent the evening at the desert rave near the Gaza Strip that was infiltrated and ambushed by Palestinian terrorists.
Militant Hamas carried out the unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of fighters bombarded the heavily fortified border in several locations.
Jonathan Polin, Hersh’s father, told the Jerusalem Post: ‘We just want him home and safe. We love you. Come home to us.’
Hersh Golberg-Polin, 23, texted his mother and father ‘I love you. I’m sorry’ at 8.11am on Saturday – as Palestinian militants declared war on Israel, took dozens of people as hostage and killed hundreds during the Jewish high holiday
Born in Berkeley, California , Hersh and his family moved to Jerusalem when he was just seven-years-old
The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations
The 23-year-old was celebrating the end of his army service. Until April, he had been a tank driver in the 7th Armored Brigade and trained to become a medic.
His father, Jonathan, and mother, Rachel, said their son had been working as a waiter and was saving up money to fund a trip to India, which was his lifelong dream.
The worried parents last saw their son at 11pm the night before the attacks started.
He had attended Simhat Torah holiday services with them at their local Jerusalem synagogue – before having dinner with them to celebrate the religious event.
His father Jonathan, from Chicago, Illinois, said: ‘He had a backpack and left at around 11 to join his friend.’
Golberg-Polin had attended an all-night ‘nature party’ near Kibbutz Re’im – not far from the Gaza Strip. The young man loves music festivals and soccer, his dad said.
Clips showed partygoers fleeing for their lives once they realized the event was under attack by the terrorists. Many were captured and taken as hostages into Gaza.
Jonathon Polin, Hersh Golberg-Polin’s father. He received a text from his son at 8.11am, reading: ‘I love you, I’m sorry’
There were two locations where the 23-year-old may have escaped to – Yishuv Saad and Ofakim – according to a handwritten list with the names of party attendees etched on to it.
But his terrified parents said: ‘He wasn’t at any of those places.’
Because of the volatile situation, and now the deadly strikes being fired from both sides, it is too dangerous for the parents to drive down themselves to find their son.
Jonathon said: ‘They [police] think there’s still a bunch of people hiding in the area.
‘Every time we hear information, we turn over everything we can to find out anything. There’s very little we can actually do.’
Many of Golberg-Polin’s family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, still live in Illinois.
His aunt Abby wrote on social media on Sunday: ‘Praying for a safe return of my nephew Hersh Goldberg Polin and everyone in Israel.’
As of Sunday morning, more than 600 Israelis are now feared dead and thousands more have been injured following an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants.
The Jewish nation is now raining down fire on fighters in the Gaza Strip in a ruthless counteroffensive in the south while it also pounds Lebanon with artillery in the north.
In the deadliest day of violence in Israel in 50 years, the Middle Eastern country’s warplanes strafed densely populated Gaza City with bombs in retaliatory strikes.
Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City
Hersh Golberg-Polin had lived in Israel from the age of seven. He was born in California
An Israeli soldier directs a self-propelled howitzer near the southern city of Ashkelon
Attendees at an outdoor party near Kibbutz Urim – the same one Hersh Golberg-Polin was at – flee for their lives after hearing gunshots
Hamas fighters have also taken an unknown number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza – including several US citizens, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Yesterday, brazen Hamas fighters knocked on the doors of residents who expected to find Israeli soldiers looking to reassure them about the air-raid sirens.
Instead the violence kickstarted one of the worst atrocities Israel has encountered in decades.
Innocent mothers with children, settlers and even the frail elderly found themselves the ‘war booty’ of the masked terrorists, who dragged them away at gunpoint.
Their actions – which horrified the international community – brought back grim reminders of masked Islamic State terrorists in Syria, who paraded hostages on social media before executing them.
But one Hamas leader hinted to the world that these hostages, whose number was well over 50 last night, would not be killed but be used as human bargaining chips to have their own prisoners in Israeli jails released.
One terrorism expert added that the captured Israelis could even be used as human shields to stop the Israeli air force – which began pounding Gaza yesterday – from blowing up certain targets.
Horrifying footage on social media showed terrified hostages being taken to Gaza by Hamas fighters, who chanted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is great) as they led them away.
In New York, a pro-Palestine rally is planned to take place just after midday on Sunday. The state’s Governor Kathy Hochul has condemned the protest.
Demonstrators are expected to take over Times Square – the social and cultural epicenter of New York – which is the city with the largest Jewish population in the world.
It was revealed this morning that a Boston college professor’s daughter and son-in-law were among those killed in Israel after a series of fierce attacks from Hamas.
Professor Ilan Troen, 83, recently retired from his role at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and moved to Israel to be with his family.
Israeli police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon
Sitting on the back of a terrorist’s motorcycle, captured Israeli Noa Argamani pleaded for her life, screaming ‘don’t kill me’
Israeli civilians were purportedly taken off the street and driven back into Gaza
The Boston-born academic recalled how his daughter and son-in-law were killed by gunmen from the Gaza strip on Saturday – and how the pair managed to save their teenage son by flinging their bodies over him.
The family were together in a secure room inside their home when in was penetrated by Hamas fighters.
The young boy, Troen’s grandson, was shot in the abdomen and is in hospital.
Troen taught Israel Studies at the private school, having studied there himself as an undergraduate before receiving his PhD from the University of Chicago.
Speaking on Saturday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a dire warning to Hamas militants: ‘I tell Hamas, you are responsible for the wellbeing of captives, Israel will settle the score with anyone who harms them.’
He vowed to defeat the group, but said the war would ‘take time’, continuing: ‘What happened today has never been seen in Israel, we will take mighty vengeance for this black day.’
Promising ‘mighty vengeance’, he promised to reduce Gaza to ‘rubble’, telling innocent Palestinians to leave immediately.
Soon after, a convey of tanks were reported to be heading towards the border with Gaza.