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Montreal man killed in Israel after Hamas attacks

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A Montreal couple says their 33-year-old son was killed in the attacks led by Hamas militants last weekend in Israel and that, during his final moments, he put his life in harm's way to save others.

Alexandre Look's family has confirmed their son was among the hundreds of people who were killed during a raid at an electronic music festival, in a rural area near the Gaza-Israel border, as part of the massive, unprecedented attacks.

His mother, Raquel Ohnona, recounted the panicked video call she received Saturday around 11:30 p.m. Montreal time from her son, who was under attack during the Hamas incursion.

"I said, 'you guys need to pull over and find yourselves shelter.' He says, 'but Mom, there's gunmen everywhere.' And I didn't understand how this [could be] happening," Ohnona recounted in an interview with CTV News. 

Her son hung up to find a safe space and then called Ohnona back. 

"I wish I would have told him to run," Ohnona recalled. "He says, 'but my gut's telling me that we're sitting ducks.'"

"The whole time he's saying to all the girls -- lots of girls crying and panicking -- 'Go in the back. I got you guys, go in the back. Nothing's going to happen, go in the back,'" she continued. "And he had seen a white pickup [truck] from afar first. A big white pickup, and he shows me, and there's militants."

The truck left, but Look was convinced it would return.

"In the meantime, he's like, 'Okay, we gotta stay sharp guys. So at this point [with] his phone, all I see is his neck, and he's looking at the sky. He's looking right, he's looking left. And I hear him scream out, 'They're coming back, there's a lot of them!'"

Ohnona heard the sound of scurrying over the phone. Then, "many, many rounds" of gunfire.

"And then I hear nothing. I said to my husband, 'They're murdering Alex, they're murdering Alex as we speak, they're murdering him,'" she said through tears.

Alexandre Look with his father, Alain Look. (Source: Facebook)

In a seperate interview with Noovo Info, Look's family describes what happened to their son and hundreds of others at the festival as "barbaric and terrorist" acts.

"Ironically, he was supposed to come back home last week but he decided to extend his stay by another week," his father, Alain Look, said. 

"Unfortunately, fate decided to take him."

The grieving father announced his son had been killed in an emotional post on Facebook.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our son Alexandre Look," Alain Look wrote. "He left us today in Israel following a terrorist attack."

"Like a true warrior, he left like a hero, wanting to protect the people he was with," Look wrote.

Alexandre Look, right, with his friend Josiah Borchers. (Source: Facebook)

Thousands of people attended the Tribe of Nova festival for an all-night outdoor dance party as they marked the Jewish holiday of Sukkot but the event turned into chaos as gunfire sent festivalgoers running for their lives. An estimated 260 bodies were found at the site in the aftermath of the broader assault on the Israeli territory.

'WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU'

Look's father described his son as "a force of nature, with a unique charisma and unparalleled generosity."

"The world will never be the same without you. Goodbye my son, I love you and watch over us from above. We will never forget you..."

Josiah Borchers met Look six years ago in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and had been friends ever since.

"Alex was one in a million, one of the brightest personalities that I've ever met. Just a charismatic, outgoing, witty personality. Alex could light up any room that he went into," he told CTV News.

This image from video provided by South First Responders shows charred and damaged cars along a desert road after an attack by Hamas militants at the Tribe of Nova Trance music festival near Kibbutz Re'im in southern Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. (South First Responders via AP)

Borchers recently hung out with Look almost daily in Tel Aviv for a month and was devastated to get a phone call with the news that he was killed. He described the bittersweet feeling of knowing that he had reached his family in Montreal during his last moments.

"It's hard for any father to lose his son but I'm happy the family got to be the last one to hear his voice," Borchers said.

Look had friends all over the world and was well-loved by those he met in recent years, including Adam Aharoni, whom he met five years ago during a Mexican holiday.

Aharoni described Look as a "one in million" friend and a proud Jewish man who touched the lives of many.

"He met people from all over the world. He was tattooing people with his presence everywhere he'd been," he said.

When Aharoni learned that Look had put his life in harm's way to save others, he wasn't that surprised. "It sounds like Alex," he said.

Look's parents were members of Montreal's Chabad of Westmount. In a post on Facebook, The Chabad of Westmount wrote about the loss for the community. 

"Our dear and treasured friends and members of our community, Alain and Raquel Look, lost their son, Alex. Alex was visiting Israel and died in one of the terrorist attacks as he heroically and selflessly saved others while fending off the attackers," the post read. 

Asher Jacobson, a rabbi at The Chevra Synagogue in Montreal, told CTV News that Look's death "hits home" for the entire Jewish community.

"We all relate to that and I can only say to his parents our deepest condolences and the community will be here to help them and strengthen them in the coming weeks and years," he said in an interview on Monday.

He said the Jewish community is pulling together to support each other in light of the hundreds of people who have been killed in the attacks and those who are still unaccounted for.

"We're in deep grieving. We're numb. We're in shock. It's grave, it's unexpected, it's painful. I think almost everybody in Israel and around the world knows someone that's been affected by this," he said.

'BELOVED SON, BROTHER AND FRIEND'

In his obituary, Look is remembered as a "remarkable individual who touched the lives of all who knew him."

Memorialized as a "beloved figure" of Montreal's Côte Saint-Luc community, Look's obituary states, "Many of us have known him since he was a young boy... His smile could light up a room, and his kind-hearted nature made him a friend to everyone he met."

The community calls his death a tragic loss that has left many heartbroken.

"The pain of his loss will be felt most acutely by his family, who knew him best and loved him unconditionally," the obituary notes, adding that he will be remembered as a "beloved son, brother and friend to his loved ones."

Flags fly at half-mast at Montreal City Hall on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (Cosmo Santamaria/CTV News)

Quebec Premier François Legault expressed his sympathies with Look's family in a post on social media on Monday.

"My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Quebecer Alexandre Look, who lost his life in one of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel," Legault wrote.

"I am saddened by the dramatic circumstances of his death, at the age of 33."

On Tuesday, the flag on the National Assembly building in Quebec City will fly at half-mast "in memory of the civilian victims of the Hamas terrorist group's offensive in Israel," Legault announced. 

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante also announced flags would be lowered in honour of Look. 

Meanwhile, an emergency fund has been set up to assist the Look family in their time of need.

On Tuesday, authorities confirmed that a second Canadian man was killed in the music festival attacks, 24-year-old Ben Mizrachi from Vancouver.

With files from CTV's Luca Caruso-Moro, Jill Macyshon and Rob Lurie, and Noovo Info 

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