top of page

Survivor stories

Read Next

I realized that if we stayed there, we would die

  • Shelly L.'s story

I was terrified they would fire at us through the car window

I was at Nova.

My husband Yoav and I had a booth there and we were celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary.

We had been there the night before at the Unity festival, and stayed for the Nova festival as well. We hadn’t slept for about 30 hours.

In the early morning hours, we started to see heavy rocket fire overhead and heard incredibly loud explosions. It was practically raining missiles. I haven’t watched the news for years, I didn’t understand how Yoav could not have told me there was tension in the South. Only later did I understand that it had been a complete surprise.

IIt was like being in a horror movie, I was absolutely terrified. We sat on the ground and waited for it to end, but it just didn’t end. I have no idea how much time passed when I was suddenly overcome by the fear that a missile would fall where we were. I was sure we would be hit.

I told Yoav frantically to start packing up our booth, that we were getting out of there.

We started packing up in a frenzy, stuffing everything in the car, jewelry, stands, clothes that we shoved into bags. What usually takes us half an hour to do, we did in ten minutes.

I sat folded in the passenger seat because it was full of equipment and we set out for the exit five minutes before the terrorists reached the area of the festival.

There was a massive bottleneck on the way to Be’eri (a nearby kibbutz), as if everyone from the festival had gone that way. We made a spur of the moment decision, which would turn out to save our lives, and turned right.

"With every car that appeared behind us, I was afraid it was full of terrorists"

Ten minutes later, everyone who had been standing in the traffic jam was massacred by terrorists coming from Be’eri. I don’t know what caused us to make the decision, perhaps it was simply the thought that we had to keep moving.

We kept driving until we saw vehicles on both sides of the road, surrounded by people lying on the ground, completely still. Yoav told me to close my eyes and turned the car around, and we drove away as fast as we could.

I thought there had been an accident due to all the vehicles driving away from the missiles so fast, but Yoav told me it was something much bigger than that.

Two minutes later, his military group received an update that there had been a terrorist infiltration and it became clear to us that now we would need to escape terrorists as well.

The navigation app wasn’t working so we followed the signs and drove to Ofakim. The way was unclear and we were completely out in the open, while the barrage of missiles grew heavier. One explosion almost threw our car off the road. We were driving at 150kph (90mph), slowing down only on the curves.

Shelly L.B and her husband

With every car that appeared behind us, I was afraid it was full of terrorists.

With every car that passed us, I was terrified they would fire at us through the window.

Finally, we reached safety and drove home from there. We were still unaware of the dimensions of the disaster and how intuition and luck had been on our side.

I don’t want to dwell on ‘what if’s, but I can’t stop thinking about it. How our children would have grown up without us if we had been murdered or kidnapped.

On the night of the festival, Yoav and I had talked about death. How it isn’t the end, and we all live several lifetimes. When we were out in the open, I reminded him of that, and asked him if it was time to say I love you. We didn’t say it.

When we got home the news started coming in about the kidnapped and the murdered, and we were shocked. So many friends, acquaintances, girls who had purchased things at our booth, it was unfathomable. Girls I had dressed the night before were missing, kidnapped or murdered.

How many death notices would we see on Facebook? How many funerals and “shiva”s would we attend?

We were saved from the massacre. But the trauma will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Shelly L.B.

bottom of page