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I heard a volley of gunfire and felt a bullet in my back

  • Izik B.'s story

As a kid, I had a nightmare. On October 7th, this nightmare came to life

As a kid, I had three nightmares. They never repeated themselves and yet, they’re etched into my mind.

In one of them, I’m running in the forest and a team of terrorists is chasing me. And I’m running for my life and try to climb a hill and they’re closing in and then I wake up.

On Saturday, that nightmare came to life in full force.

I was a food truck provider at that damn party in the south, Friday night, at around 3am there’s tons of work and an old lady with short grey hair comes up to the food truck, walking stick in hand and wearing clothes resembling a prophet from the Middle Ages and she puts a note in my hand and continues walking. I didn’t completely understand why but I was curious and I looked at the note, which had the following written:

“No one gets out of this life alive, use what you have. From the old lady with the note and stick”.

I asked myself “What does she want with me, the lady with the disturbing notes”, I crumpled up the note and continued to work.

"It doesn’t stop, it just gets worse, a rocket, and another one, an explosion and then another one"

Saturday, 6 in the morning I wake up my partner Doron and tell him that it’s time to switch out, I’m going to sleep. At around 06:15 I lay on the mattress, at 06:30 our Chef, Lotan, wakes me up “Get up, get up, they’re shooting rockets, there’s a red alert siren”.

I jump out of bed and look up at the sunrise through a colorful canopy, and the entire sky is filled with rockets and interceptions and explosions… Some of the crowd is running for their lives, and the other stays in place, looking on in astonishment at the surrealistic event unfolding before their eyes.

At first, I thought this was just another round of taunting by the animals residing on our borders, and soon it will end, we will pack everything up and leave.

But it doesn’t stop, it just gets worse, a rocket, and another one, an explosion and then another one.

I tell Doron that it’s heating up, lets pack up everything and leave. With the barrage still going on, we start to pack everything and then Doron tells me that he is going to bring his car. Lotan and I continue to pack everything up, when suddenly I hear a burst of gunfire from a machine gun from within the forest.

The party is pretty close to the border and I thought it was coming from there. Two minutes barely go by and one of the production’s vehicles emerges from the forest, two security guards with a young woman between them with her head and face covered in blood yelling “They shot my head! Help, there are terrorists here, they killed all my friends!”.

Magen David Adom [MDA - Israeli EMT and paramedic emergency ambulance service] and the security guards that were there didn’t know what to do with her, and due to the nature of the party they asked her whether she is sure she didn’t take anything and she’s hallucinating, "maybe you fell from all the chaos and hit your head?".

She yells back at them: “I’m not hallucinating anything, there are tons of terrorists here, save me!”

And all this is happening under the non-stop barrage of rockets.

At that moment I understand that something bigger is happening

I call Doron and tell him to drive away, there are terrorists here. I see my son, Tevel, in front of my eyes and I tell Doron that I’m getting out of here now and plead that he does the same, but because of his big heart, he insists on hitching the food truck, since he lent it from a close friend. Fuck the equipment, get out of here!

"on the way we saw cars with holes in them, bodies thrown, sights I will never forget."

Lotan and I are in a 4x4 vehicle and through the fields we bypass a small traffic jam and then we stop at a huge traffic jam, with a police car blocking the center of the road, and police officers with their weapons drawn, who have no idea what is going on or where to go. No one knows what is going on.

Then another girl comes from the fields and points in the direction of the traffic jam and yells to the police officers that there are terrorists over there and that they’re murdering anyone sitting in their cars. Everyone starts to panic and the officers tell us to drive away or walk through the open field towards the east, the field that you see in videos, with everyone running, just like sitting ducks.

I get into the car, key in the ignition, while I’m already planning how to bypass the traffic jam through the field, to quickly get to the top of the hill and away from this nightmare.

I turn the key, and the car doesn’t start. Not a good sign in my current predicament, but I quickly recouped and we got out of the car and started to escape on foot.

We’re walking as quickly as we can and from afar we hear bursts of gunfire and screams of terror, from every direction.

A car stops next to us and offers to let us join, we’re standing in a traffic jam in the field, inching forward, and I’m wound tighter than a spring, I call Doron and beg him to get out of here, that this is a real terror attack.

At this stage, he tells me that the army is not letting anyone leave the party area since it’s surrounded by terrorists and the call cuts off.

And then I look at the cars at the top of the hill and I realize that they’re starting to make a U-turn, but not a “Oops I went the wrong way” kind of a turn, but a Chuck Norris U-turn. 40 cars, all at once in chaos, and then I tell the driver that took us to also make a U-turn, that they aren’t turning for no reason, something is happening there. He’s stubborn and doesn’t want to turn back, but when he realizes everyone turning, he starts to as well.

Some divine power was watching over me when my car got stuck because I had planned to bypass the entire traffic jam through the fields by going around the hill.

We go back to the traffic jam with the police officers and then bursts of gunfire start close to us, screams, people are starting to drive and run in every direction, and I tell him to drive away from here, just drive, doesn’t matter where to, just hit the gas. He got mad that we told him what to do and decided to stay in place. He said “If I’m meant to die, I will”. I hope he’s alive, I jumped out of the car just as he finished his sentence and started to run, in the field but close to the trees so that I’ll be able to roll in and hide if need be, just as many others did.

And I’m running with everyone and the bursts of gunfire are getting closer…

I’m after three days with no sleep, there was another party at the same location the day before that we also worked at, I’m running for my life and I hear bullets whistle past my head, dirt spraying against my legs… Take the exaggerated commercials of Yes [an Israeli cable service] and multiply them by 1000.

From the shock, my legs freeze up, as if that is it, we aren’t working anymore for you and I tell myself just fall, as if you’re dead or run into the forest and hide and then again, I see my son’s face in front of my eyes. At that moment, an angel passed by with a small Skoda that wasn’t driving by too quickly, so I opened the back door, jumped inside and sat down. Afterward, three girls also joined, so we were 9 people in a small car, he hit the gas and on the way we saw cars with holes in them, bodies thrown, sights I will never forget.

"And we, the survivors, carrying wounds."

We managed to reach the road safely, still not believing we survived that Hell. We didn’t know whether the barricades we were on the way would contain terrorists or soldiers.

I can’t get in touch with Doron, his phone is unavailable, the WhatsApp messages contain one checkmark [indicating that the receiving end is not getting the messages].

The driver lets me off at a gas station near Ashdod, where they come to pick me up to go home.

I walk into my house and hug Tevel as hard as I can.

I started crying like a man who knows that this gift of life was just regiven to him. I used what I had - just like it was written in the note from the old lady with a stick.

I hugged Hanni and Tevel and I couldn’t stop.

As I write this, tears fall on the screen.

I see on my Facebook feed all the beautiful and full of life people - this person is missing, and that person is kidnapped, and she was murdered and he is injured and the obituaries, like an endless memorial day.

And we, the survivors, carrying wounds.

I fed half of you the night before. I just can’t process it…

To the worthless and damned terrorists, monsters who don’t deserve the gram of oxygen they’re wasting, to the bloodthirsty terrorists who slaughtered whole families and soldiers, who tortured and kidnapped babies and the elderly, who massacred our flowers in the forest for being Jewish, just like in the darkest points of history, and to all those who support these actions, I’m telling you this:

You did not succeed in catching me in my nightmare when I was ten and you did not succeed on Saturday.

The Jewish nation is a spot of light in an ocean of darkness and you will never succeed in snuffing it out.

*I wrote this two days ago [09.10.23] when we were still praying that Doron survived the massacre. But yesterday [10.10.23] we were notified that those monsters murdered him, and my heart is completely shattered.

Doron Boldas, friend, chef, you who looked like a viking but would never hurt the tip of a fly’s wing, with the purest heart and laugh and willingness to give, and our conversations. Dear god, we had just slept outside together for three days, we worked together, laughed, had fun, I can’t breathe.

May God avenge his blood.

I send my deepest condolences to the families who lost the most dear to them, a quick recovery to those injured, and may all those missing be found alive and those kidnapped be returned home as quickly as possible.

We must start closing this wound.

I want to thank everyone for their heartwarming comments, you are amazing, and even with all the nonsense going on, I’m proud to be a part of this nation.

** This text was written two days ago, but as time goes on I have more and more insights

They started with a rocket barrage that did not stop for two hours while focusing on the Re’im parking lot. Non-stop explosions above our heads made the ground shake

Although many military failures led to this situation, there is one military aspect that worked impeccably, as it always does: The Iron Dome.

If the mortar bombs had fallen in the field, we would have heard of 1,000 dead from the party alone.

And we were in an open field that is usually hit, and I don’t even recall any shrapnel.

I don’t know what to think anymore.

I’ve started an internal and external healing process, and I want to help and be with people who survived that hell.

I’ve opened a FaceBook group called: “Survivors of the Nova Festival”

A group that will allow people to share their stories, tools to support and deal with what we went through, along with professionals who deal with trauma and more…

If you know people who survived the hell we went through, please add them.

Izik B.