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

  • Moti S.'s story

He looks at me, shocked, and yells 'They shot her! get out of here!'

This photo was taken in the parking lot of the Nova festival in Re’im, among the rocket launches and interceptions, and before we knew there was a terrorist infiltration.

Photo of Moti S.

Taken by: Shye Klein.

For some time now, I feel the need to share, to tell what really happened there. What happened to me there. How snap decisions become facts. How I survived. And how much I pray for the well-being of everyone who hasn’t made it home and we still don’t know their fate.

I ask everyone to wait and not get into the shuttle while all partygoers try to escape from the rockets at once.

In hindsight, I think this decision saved our lives for the first time. Many people who managed to flee early in the event were massacred by terrorists who ambushed all the exits and simply waited for us there with guns, grenades, and even RPGs.

Later on (in the video), we got into the shuttle, drove maybe 10 meters, and had to stop because of the traffic jam and the screaming. We get out of the car, approach the exit road and about 4 cars ahead of us, we see a girl screaming on the ground and people around her trying to help her.

I get there and ask the guy caring for her, “What happened?” He screams at me, “Get out of here!!”

I tell him, “I’m not going anywhere! What happened?” He looks at me with shocked eyes and says, “There are terrorists here, they shot her, get out of here!!!”

Then reality changed, up to that point, none of us really understood what we were facing.

I see cars with bullet holes, smashed cars around, terror, and terrifying silence except for the girl’s screams.

We’re in the bushes, about 7 meters away from her and the medic (who was just a fellow party-goer like us) - the angel who tried to do all he could for her.

At this stage, I took a deep breath and switched to machine mode. I understood that only composure and focus could save us.

"I see cars with bullet holes, smashed cars around, terror, and terrifying silence except for the girl’s screams."

I ask my friends to put down their phones because it’s not the time to notify parents/friends and definitely not the time to read the news because we need to be present, alert, and focused on our surroundings and the moment. I ask everyone to scan in a different direction while I try to figure out where the danger comes from. Everyone around us hides.

After a few minutes, we decided to run to the fields. Not before Elad, the hero, helped evacuate a couple of friends who had a disability in the leg to an emergency vehicle.

Elad, I, Mor and Tal, the sweet, heroic girls, start to run together with dozens and later hundreds of people who try to flee to the infinite fields while we hear bullets buzzing by our ears.

“We’re getting out of this, you’re heroes, breathe with me; we have to breathe regularly and not stress out,” I keep telling them like a mantra.

For 3 hours, we run with hundreds of people.

For 3 hours as the bullets get closer and closer to us.

For 3 hours we hear screams and panic.

I receive worried calls from friends and family, I answer no one. I need to save battery. Suddenly, my mom calls, I answer only her and, of course, bluff that everything is alright and that we’re safe because there is no need to put her through unnecessary stress.

After all the hours of running and hiding, I notice a distant tent with vehicles.

I tell my friends that we have to go there and that they would save us, because the next town is another 15 km of running/walking and we are without water, scorched by the sun, after hours of fleeing and we don’t really know what we would encounter on the way.

I remember I insisted quite a bit on going to the distant tent. I was able to convince my friends and a few other people.

"That was the moment when I began to feel a bit scared and desperate, fearing I had led our friends to a dead end."

While walking and running towards to that tent, I realize people are starting to get into their cars and drive off. From the entire day, that was the moment when I began to feel a bit scared and desperate, fearing I had led our friends to a dead end. But I shook off those thoughts and didn’t give up! I sprinted wildly and started to jump and wave my arms. By a huge stroke of luck, one driver spotted me, stopped, and waved back at me. He also stopped his friends, and they started to come towards us.

We scream at them, “Terrorists are after us, get us out of here.”

They brought us water, calmed us down, put us in their cars, and took us from there. These friends are the organizers of Midburn. Angels who took care of us and risked themselves instead of fleeing.

They took us to a nearby farm, where we took turns keeping watch over the open field to make sure we wouldn’t be surprised.

During that time, they made us food and never stopped hugging and loving us.

The owner of the farm, a true prince, completely opened his home to us.

Meanwhile, they took a pickup with a water trailer and drove to help others trying to escape.

After hours at the farm and before the evening, we decided we were not staying there because staying there in the dark was more dangerous. We simply drove home, and luckily, we had no encounters.

I arrived home just before the evening, let go of my vigilance, and crashed until the next day.

Only the next day, through the news and the videos, I sadly understood the extent of the disaster that happened there and understood how lucky we are and that what happened to us there was nothing less than a miracle.

My heart is with all the partygoers and the people who didn’t return home, including our friend Sharona Shmunis Harel, who is still missing.

I pray and hope they will return home safely.

Moti S.

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