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Survivor stories

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They went from house to house. Tormenting. Butchering. Slaughtering. Looting. Torching. Kidnapping

  • Rotem A.'s story

Every moment, someone else shouted, “Turn around! There’s a terrorist in this direction!”

I had this gut feeling the day before, “Maybe I’ll cancel my ticket to the festival?” It was just a feeling, and anyone who knows me knows that I never cancel anything because I’m stubborn that way. We’ll go to the party, everything will be fine, and it will be amazing.


At 4:30 am, we arrived at the party, unpacked, and built ourselves a beautiful tent inside the festival. For about an hour, we sat, drank and danced a bit, until about 6 am. Exactly at that moment, we looked up to the sky and saw an incredible amount of rockets flying overhead. They announced that the festival was over. We lay on the ground near the fence for a few moments until the rockets stopped. I was sure that the music would come back on soon, that it was just a few harmless rockets, but the situation in the sky got worse, and everyone started running to their cars, trying to get home.




The traffic was crazy. There was nowhere to go. Cars were driving in the wrong direction, it was absolute chaos, there was no chance of leaving. People were sitting outside their vehicles, hoping it would end soon. What they didn't know was that everything was about to get a lot worse if they didn’t escape.


"We heard shooting and screaming in the background, and at this stage, each of us had already split up and were running alone."


Suddenly someone screamed, "Terrorists!" I thought I was hallucinating, but everyone started getting out of their cars, and we just started running toward the fields, not knowing where to go or in which direction. Running from one place to another, because every moment, someone else shouted, “Turn around! There’s a terrorist in this direction,” and we, along with the herd and inside the thorns, tried to get away.


People are walking in a field with clouds of smoke behind them

Rockets were falling in the fields behind us, and I remember looking back and from inside a cloud of dust, two armed terrorists ran out, about 200 meters behind us, pretty far away. I guess whoever had been closer to them had already been shot, and we just looked ahead and ran. We heard shooting and screaming in the background, and at this stage, each of us had already split up and were running alone.


"We had counted the days and hours until this festival, we hadn’t known the horrors that it would bring upon us."


During all of this running and escaping, I sent a message to my friend to go back to my place. I lived nearby and had a shelter in my apartment. I was sure that everything was fine and my friends had already escaped, and then I got a message that broke my heart even more, that my friend's girlfriend had been murdered. I kept on running, despite the shocking news, and all this time, I’m crying hysterically, having a panic attack like I’ve never had before. We were all supposed to dance together, we had counted the days and hours until this festival, we hadn’t known the horrors that it would bring upon us.


During all this time, my family was on the phone with me, hearing the shooting in the background. I remember that I said to my mother that I love them, that I’m running and ‘ll call her back. Death passed before my eyes. The only thing I did until I got to a safe place, which was an army base, was speak to God. I told Him that I know He’s guarding me, that I can feel it!


I didn’t see any more horrific sights, I managed to escape. Friends who had tried to escape at the beginning are no longer alive, some of them are missing. After I lost my friends while running, I saw a car that had managed to escape from the festival, and I stopped it, got inside, and said to the driver, “Drive, just drive.” Many people were running nearby, and I saw Inbar, a friend of mine. I pulled her into the car, and we kept driving through the fields, following a few other cars that had managed to escape. It turns out that Sharon and Tamir were in one of those cars, thank God.


"Suddenly, the cars in the convey turned around, they said there were terrorists up ahead"


Suddenly, the cars in the convey turned around, they said there were terrorists up ahead. Everything was already a cloud of dust. There was no direction, and we didn’t know where to drive. The most important thing was to get to some sort of paved road. We managed to get to a road and set Waze [the navigation app] to a nearby military base. One of the amazing people in the car must had served there when she was in the army, and she told us to go there and hide, that it was the safest place.


That decision saved our lives. People who escaped to villages in the area ran into terrorists. We reached the base and spent about eight or nine hours in the migunit [small concrete doorless shelter] and in other places on the base, between sirens and false alarms that terrorists had infiltrated the base. The anxiety was immense, and I kept hoping that everything was a nightmare that would end any minute. At 6 pm, I made it home, thank God.


"I wake up every morning hoping that maybe I had a nightmare, but this is reality and we have to deal with it.”


It will take a while until this trauma heals, but I know it will pass, like every other thing in life. To all of my friends who witnessed the horrors from up close, I’m sorry that I don’t have other words to say. To my friends who are missing and to those who were murdered, my heart refuses to believe it. I can’t absorb it yet. I wake up every morning hoping that maybe I had a nightmare, but this is reality and we have to deal with it. We’ll get through everything. Thank you, God, for protecting me in every step.



Rotem A.


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