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Survivor stories

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The people at the checkpoint looked strange, I thought I could spot them holding Kalashnikov rifles

  • Yam S.'s story

All I could think of was - this is it. My life is over.

October 7th.

A night before, we’re headed to a nature rave. I’m getting ready, excited, dying to get there already.

We pitch a tent, lay down a mat, talk about life.

We drink beer, laugh.

We head to the dance floor that had just opened up, filled with adrenaline and more pumped up than I’ve felt in a very long time. Best 5 hours of my life.

There’s a thin line between heaven and hell.

We split up, me and a friend, and Almog just a few meters away from us at a massage stand.

A weird noise came out of nowhere and fireworks.

No one understands, some ignore it and keep dancing, the music continued to play.

Suddenly everything is unclear, the music stops, the crowd is asked to evacuate and millions of people run toward the exit.

I start to yell my heart out to find Almog.

People are running towards me and I run in the opposite direction, into the festival, to reunite.

After 10 minutes of hell we found each other!

We knew that from here on out everything was fine and things can’t get any worse.

We’re all together!

People are stressed, they run toward their cars, and start driving.

My parents call, they don’t know we’re here, and in order to calm them down I tell them we’re in a shelter, safe in a closed space, but very quickly they find out that we are in the middle of the party.

"We see people fall one by one, while we continue to run forward because we have no choice"

I hangup, we laugh a bit, say "come on we’ll just drive home, eat some chocolate and relax a bit after all this.".

Suddenly people start yelling at us to get out of the car. We all jumped, left everything in the car - phone, keys, shoes, everything. We start running to hide somewhere nearby.

About 10 minutes later people start turning to the police, and suddenly - a round of bullets. The kind you only hear in movies.

“They’re shooting at us, run!” someone yells.

We see people fall one by one, while we continue to run forward because we have no choice, they’re shooting at us, a never ending round of bullets.

A field of thorns and my shoes already fell in the first five minutes. I was barefoot, I ran as fast as I could. My leg was filled with holes, so bad that every step I took was like a never-ending hell.

People helped me walk, picked me up, told me don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t give up,

and all I could think of was - this is it. My life is over.

I told those who were with me to keep going and to not wait for me, that everything will be fine.

I gave up.

Yam S, Almog and Ron

Lucky for me I was with the best people you could have asked for in this kind of situation and they didn’t let me give up, they held my hand the whole way and just didn't leave.

After 10 more minutes of nonstop running up and down hills, barefoot and in a field of thorns -

I felt the end again. They’re behind us, shooting at us, I can’t move, I hear screams, I fall and get up, fall and get up. I took Almog’s phone and started filming a goodbye video for my family, I couldn’t believe that the situation would end any differently.

"The bullets don’t stop even for a second, from here on out all we can do is pray."

5 more minutes of running and that’s it, I couldn’t see anyone anymore, they kept running and we were left behind.

We decided we have to hide and hope they don’t find us.

We lay on the ground, plants behind us, open space in front of us.

Completely exposed without the ability to move or hide better, they’re behind us.

The bullets don’t stop even for a second, from here on out all we can do is pray.

Almog, who was with her phone, sent our parents the location and from there they made sure to pass it on to anyone who might be able to help. "On our way to you!” they said.

Hope was restored, we told ourselves 10 minutes and this is all over, someone’s coming to get us. Half an hour goes by, an hour, an hour and a half, two hours. Eternity.

No one is coming, no one is managing to locate us, we’re in a warzone so no one is allowed in either.

As the minutes tick by, thoughts about the end are closer than ever.

I call the police, we wait for many long minutes for someone to tell us someone is coming to our rescue. Suddenly they answer and I’m ecstatic, I tell them "please come and save us I’m begging you", and they hang-up. We’re back to square one again.

Another hour passes and we’re in the sun, getting roasted, no water, no shade, just us and the animals climbing on us, praying the terrorists wont see us.

We heard noises, tried to listen and heard Arabs, the terrorists are behind us. My heart’s in my throat and there are maybe a couple of branches hiding us. We hold hands as tight as we can and pray as hard as we can. A few minutes go by and the terrorist is to our right, walking on the path in front of us, dressed in black.

The tears don’t stop the body doesn’t process, and we couldn’t make a sound.

I started thanking God for everything he’s given me in life, for my family, friends, experiences, everything.

All the terrorist has to do is to tilt his head a bit to the left and he’ll see three bodies lying on the ground. A moment that lasts forever but he doesn’t see us, we’re saved.

Yam S, Almog and Ron are lying on the ground

The shooting sounds has become something normal and we’re still waiting, each one is trying to stay strong for the other. In the sixth hour we’ve already got headaches and we started vomiting from the heat, the sun was on us without a moment of shade.

Some time goes by and we hear a car coming at us up ahead. Hope and fear are mixed together, it’s either Arabs coming to kill us or civilians coming to save us, one or the other.

Either way they’re headed our way and there’s nowhere to run to or hide.

They’re yelling something unclear and we aren’t moving, terrified that they might see us, but the third yell is clearer: “Yam” “Yam” “Almog”. The three of us hit the ground running while there’s shooting behind us, we don’t look back. We get in the car, without any understanding of what just happened. We collect as many people on the way, 16 people on top of each other, dusty, sweaty, hurt.

"Thank you to the civilians who saved us and fearlessly entered a warzone."

We are now terrified in an open space, with nonstop shooting. We stopped halfway between Kibutz Re’im and Moshav Patish. Called our parents to let them know we're alive.

And the rest is history.

This is my chance to say thank you.

Thank you God, who brought us back home safe and sound.

Thank you to the people who were at the party and helped each other even though their lives were in danger.

Thank you to the civilians who saved us and fearlessly entered a warzone.

Thank you to the amazing residents of Maslul for opening their homes to us and giving us all the help we dream of and more

Thank you to the wonderful couple who lovingly and wholeheartedly hosted us and made sure we had everything we needed.

To Shira who drove us from Be’er Sheva to Tel Aviv and back to Be’er Sheva.

And a huge thanks to Almog and Ron, who thanks to them I’m here, who didn’t give up on each other for a second and who each took turns calming the other down and giving each other strength. I love you all.

Yam S.

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