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Survivor stories

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I realized that if we stayed there, we would die

  • Nataly K.'s story

Every turn with the car, that didn’t end with us being murdered, made me exhale in relief

How did we manage to escape?

Did we leave on time?

These are the first questions everybody is asking me.

To the second question, I answer that leaving on time was basically not even being there when it happened, which unfortunately wasn’t the case in my story.

How we managed to escape is a question with a longer explanation, that for some reason paints a picture as if we operated successfully, when in practice the reality was that one miracle followed another and every decision that was made, and one was made every minute, and didn’t end with us dying, turned out to be an excellent one.

Everything started with a wonderful sunrise, with music and blood gushing just asking the body to dance. A sunrise like a sunset. My breath was taken away. This was the last time I felt proud of myself for bringing my friends to this rave. We went to the Canta (the sitting area) to get our sunglasses. I told Yael I wanted to ignore everyone there and get into the music. Sunglasses are a neat solution to this thought. Yonit followed us.

"We are all mothers of at least 2 children each, and it was clear to us that we must get home"

On the way to the ״Canta״ a blaze of explosions started in the sky, unlike anything I ever heard before until that moment.

I looked at Yael and she, in her eternally-calm voice, said “mortar bombs my love”.

So I answered: "We’re leaving".

Yonit said Tamar and Yifat were on the dance floor.

First wise decision: we all went to get them together. I don’t know where my heart was today, if we hadn’t all moved as a solid mass.

We came back to the canta and packed up our things military-style, within 3 minutes everything was packed and we had our backpacks on. While packing, someone from the production came on stage and said the rave was closing. I have to say it was done calmly, and on top of that they walked among everyone to check they’re all doing ok.

For someone who attended the Arad festival [a music festival in 1995 where some people were crushed to death because of negligent production] the difference was substantial.

We hurried to the parking lot. We are all mothers of at least 2 children each, and it was clear to us that we must get home. On the way out Yael realized they opened the fence in the middle to allow faster access to the parking! Thanks to the production for that too.

Yael and I entered our car and Tamar, Yifat and Yonit entered Yonit’s car. Yonit and I were driving. That reassured me because Yonit under fire is the calmest person ever. I knew she would take care of them and I would take care of Yael. We began driving.

There was a small traffic jam at the exit. Someone started screaming at me and cursing me telling me to drive, I was just scared not to run anyone over. I was getting ready to bark back but Yael explained there will be time for that later and now we need to proceed.

I started eating all the snacks we brought to the rave. I’m only calm when I chew.

The cars around us started laughing at me for eating at a time like this, and for a second I was glad I made them smile.

Nataly K.

We came out of the traffic jam and the officer told me to drive south, to Afikim.

I drove north, like Waze instructed. Don’t know if it was a wise decision or not. But we’re home. We drove for 10 minutes and some cars were stuck in front of us. I saw metal shards in the road and people yelled at us to turn around.

I realized the road was blocked.

We turned.

We drove 20 minutes to the south. Again, they told us to turn around - we felt like lab rats, running in circles. The officers around us didn’t look like they knew any more than we did, with all their good intentions they just seemed lost and stressed. We drove back on the same road.

We saw Tamar, Yifat and Yonit go out of the car and into the mobile shelter, I asked Yael - should we do that too? She replied- Drive home!

Looking back, another good call.

"Her boyfriend and his friend were killed next to her and she was bleeding. No one came for them. She begged for someone to stop the bleeding"

After 4 u-turns and a lot of frustration, I found myself on the entrance to the rave, the same one I left almost an hour ago. Stuck in traffic. Yael tells me “there’s gunshots, can you hear?”

I heard…

I saw a police car driving into the fields, creating a road in its tracks. I quickly followed it.

It wasn’t simple, we were standing in a long line of cars. I did a “Tel Aviv Style Parking”- back, forward, back, forward, turned the car almost in-place and we were on our way following the police car. In one of my turns I heard Yonit yelling that I hit her car, I looked and saw that the car was ok and told her we’ll exchange details back in Tel Aviv.

Yonit, Tamar and Yifat left the car by foot and went under the bridge. The next day Yael will tell me that I didn’t just turn around, the people in the cars right in front of us started abandoning their cars and running towards us, screaming- “they are shooting at us!”

I didn’t have my own memory of this fact. All I had on my mind was we must get home! And Yael and I already decided we’re driving there. We managed to get to the fields. I lost the police car. I started following other cars, each going in a different direction.

Nothing made sense, there was no road, everyone had to make choices with hope they would get them home. In one of the turns 3 people entered our car. 2 minutes later, they left.

A second later 2 girls asked us to take 2 of their passengers because they were out of gas. I told them to join, they said they were ok. I thanked god for the first time I had a full tank!!!!

I wish those 2 girls are ok.

The couple that came in the car were from Eilat and they were completely anxious. The girl was screaming on the phone and I begged her to shut up because I couldn’t concentrate!

She tried to get the police to come rescue her but all I could think was she’s getting in the way of who’s actively working on rescuing her, while no police is coming. We kept taking turns, right, left, from no-idea to don’t-know-where. I realized I’m on a farm road and it must lead to some farmer’s home they go to at the end of the day, so I decided to remain on the road. It was frightening and everything was full of dust. We couldn’t see.

The field was open and we were like sitting ducks in it. And my greatest fear was that we’ll get stuck in the sand. Yael kept looking at the map making sure we were headed east! Because the rave was on the west! And I was certain that they were only shooting at us, at the rave. I started realizing the rave made its way to the news because I started getting texts asking if I’m ok. I replied to everyone that I’m ok but I’m working on getting us out and can’t talk. When in my heart I know that within 2 minutes my reply can turn into a lie.

Every turn that didn’t end with us being murdered made me exhale in relief, and every new turn I had to take sucked all the air from my lungs. We saw a white pick-up truck with a ton of people inside, gripping the side bars- we were sure they were terrorists, when we looked inside we saw they were children from the rave. The next day, Yael and I will wonder if they were survivors or hostages, and either way be glad they didn’t shoot us.

In the meantime we saw a vehicle stuck on the side of the road and people waving at us to stop. At first Yael told me to drive away - we didn’t know who they were. When we got closer we identified them as people from the rave. Their car got stuck - exactly what I was afraid would happen to us. I told them whoever wants to get in can, they started arguing who goes and who stays - no one wants to take someone else’s chance of being saved.

I have never come across such humanity before!

I begged for someone to just get in, Yael told them the others should get in the other cars, they shouldn’t try to move together as a group. I hope they are ok. Daniel from Holon got in.

He was with a friend on the line. Her boyfriend and his friend were killed next to her and she was bleeding. No one came for them. She begged for someone to stop the bleeding.

I told Daniel he must hang up and she has to call the police. He told me I don’t understand.

I said all I know is that I’m driving and this is unraveling me, and I need less emotion and more calm and focus to function. He understood that and listened.

"Last night the sights I don’t remember seeing started coming back to me"

At that point he couldn’t comprehend the fact that he left his friends behind, but I’m just glad he’s alive. Yael kept navigating us to the east. A friend of Yael’s was home, Yael sent him a live location of us and he directed us away from the bomb alarms on his screen. We were like a private little war-room. Yael sent a live location to Yonit Yifat and Tamar and read them signs she saw on the road, to get them driving in the same direction as us.

Yonit’s car stopped. It didn’t move for 10 minutes. Yael and I couldn’t breathe.

We called Yogev at home and told him to get Yonit and Tamar on the phone immediately and let us know they were ok. We were still on the run. At that point I couldn’t understand why I had 3 people in my car I didn’t know, and my 3 friends weren't with me. A difficult feeling, for which I will forever feel guilty.

Yonit managed to get a message through to the fairies (our group chat). They were in the Tzeelim bunker, picked up by soldiers. They also picked up 6 additional people and drove them in the back of their car. We managed to get on highway 6, the girl from Eilat asked us to make a bathroom stop. Yael and I looked at her like she was hallucinating. We’re not stopping! When we arrived to the Kiryat Gat area I realized we were near Ashkelon and this is the last safe point, before another unknown horror. I made a bathroom stop.

We kept going, a heavy smoke in the sky in front of us. We were already safe but it didn’t feel that way at all. Our passengers started asking us to stop on the way and drop them home, but me and Yael didn’t go through all of this to not reach our girls safely.

I told them my next stop will be the police station in Kibbutz Galuyot street, Tel Aviv. And that’s what happened. They left the car. I drove Yael home.

I arrived home, parked the car, the neighbor saw me shocked and came to tell me a war had begun.

I became even more shocked.

I came home and opened the news for the first time in 10 years. Alarms went off. But I couldn’t get up from the couch. Everything felt small in comparison.

I told everyone I was ok because I didn’t have a scratch on me.

Fortunately, a few of them figured I didn’t know what I was saying and came over to hug me.

I started returning home. An hour after I was already home.

I arrived at 10AM, Tamar Yifat and Yonit arrived at 4PM.

Today is Tuesday, Oct 10th, 3 days later, and I’m still not home.

I realized this when I was in the supermarket but my entire body was in the car, with Yael, trying to get home (from the supermarket). It’s hard to explain.

Last night the sights I don’t remember seeing started coming back to me. I guess in the next couple of days more sights will come back to me, unfortunately. But also, maybe fortunately, because that way my soul can heal. I texted Yael on Sunday morning: “Were alive”.She replied “and home”. She was right. Both weren’t trivial.

The only feeling I have right now is guilt (for so many things) but I’m happy my girls still have a mom and a dad. The sheer amount of calls and texts made me realize what hell we were in. I still couldn’t comprehend. I have nothing but love in my heart, to those who were there, to those who made it back, to those who didn’t and I worry tremendously for everyone who was called to retaliate to this horrible, incomprehensible thing that happened.

I wish everyone would come home safely.

Because I can’t take it anymore.

Nataly K.

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