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Another group of terrorists arrived - with a pickup truck to take us back in

  • Liraz U.'s story

It took me a few minutes to realize that they were all dead bodies

NOVA Festival started on 06 October 2023. For us, it started a little earlier. ‏Two weeks before, Omri called and asked us to be the stage-designers for the festival. ‏Two weeks in advance? No worries. Dror was still in Nepal but we knew that after he'd come back to Israel we'd start working on it.


20 September 2023: Dror texted me from Nepal "Sis, after Kippur, first thing in the morning at the workshop. I'm gonna' work myself to death!" ‏Today, his words take on a slightly different meaning. ‏The day after, I got a call from Mico and Osher. They always made me laugh and I could never tell them apart and they knew it. ‏I reminded them of that, in that phone call, and they told me they want us (me and Dror) to design the stage, ‏and of course I agreed - these two amazing brothers were the first to give us a chance ever in this business, how could I say no?


After I hung up the phone I realized that we had 10 days to work two stages + one artistic exhibit that I set up with Sharel. 10 DAYS! Me and Dror, around the clock like crazy people, 24/7 sleepless nights. ‏Today I am thankful for that, for the time with him in his last days. The best goodbye I could have asked for.

3 October 2023: Dror and I were still working around the clock. ‏And we got visitors! Avidan and Oded, friends of Dror that I met in India. ‏They came to say hello and make a stop on their way to the north. ‏As they were watching us working on the stage, they were getting so excited and after one second they started to help us. ‏Avidan and Oded were like brothers to us, and I didn’t really know them. ‏I didn't know if they would come to the party or not, and the day after, Avidan called me and said: ‏"Liraz, my apartment is really close to the party, and you all are invited to my place, ‏I have a good vehicle for all of the stuff and tools, it's on me, do you need anything else?" ‏For God’s f*cking sake, what a person.


Few hours later, Omri called and told us that we had only 8 hours to build the stage on the day of the event. ‏We knew that we would have to have a good team, and were starting to call our friends. ‏I called Yonatan, Dror called Shoval, a good friend of his. Dror has so many friends, it's unbelievable. ‏"Shoval is really good at tying knots," Dror said. "He can help us with the Bamboo sticks". ‏I didn't know Shoval so good, but he told me on the phone "Dror is like a brother to me, I will come to help you no matter what, I don't care about the money or anything, I'm with you for the whole event" ‏And by the way, I didn't ask him to help us, he was the one who asked.


The stage with the DJ at Nova Festival

Decor at the Supernova Festival

6 October 2023: At 4:00 am, we all met at the workshop. ‏Shoval had been waiting for 1 hour, and the guys told me I was late. ‏From that moment until the morning, we were building the Mushroom Stage around the festival's fence, and as we were building the stage, there was still the Unity festival. Heavy pressure. At around mid-day, Avidan and Oded joined us, and we all got excited, but for real. ‏A lot of amazing guys came to help, and then it was showtime, we had to make sure that everything would stay stable. I still can't believe how we could ever have doubted. ‏It survived that hell.


In our stage design business, I'm in charge of the design, but Dror is the one who deserves the real credit, he is one of a kind. ‏It was only because of him that things worked out, he believed in me before anyone else, he was into it, as I said, one of a kind.


7 October 2023: It was 2:00 am.

Finally, we finished building the Main Stage, after so many sleepless nights. Dror, me and Shoval were taking about getting some rest in the meantime, but Avidan and Oden were just about to come back to the party, and then we all decided - "Fuck it, let's stay".


At 5:20 am, we arrived. I got in first with Oded, and the rest of the guys came a few minutes later. Dror and I had a quick-glance at each other, he told me his plans and we were so proud of the stage. I was too tired and really didn't want to stay, I was waiting for the sunrise to take a few photos and go back to sleep.


The Nova Festival sign

A screenshot of Avidan Turgeman's story with a friend at Nova Festival

It was 6:31 am. ‏I was backstage at the Mushroom area, and there was a red alert. ‏I saw a few rockets in the sky, right above us. ‏I saw Omri go down from the stage with the DJ, he asked me "Lir, what the f*ck?" ‏I told him that I didn’t know, maybe it was just a noise. ‏Avishai moved towards me, and a lot of other people made their way to the exit. I called Dror to tell him to come with us, but he told me "I wanna stay". I had no idea. I called Avidan to ask him if it was normal, because he lives in Ashkelon, he said "It's normal, we can stay here". ‏I had no idea.


Avishai, Liad and I were driving in Avishai's car to the right hand side exit from the party. ‏The police didn't know how to direct the drivers out. ‏The GPS navigated to the right, so we went right. ‏After a few moments, the rockets seemed increasingly close, so I asked them to turn around and they agreed. ‏I wanted to go back to the party to stay with Dror, so we did. ‏I was calling Dror and telling him "Come with us, let's go to Avidan's home". But they wanted to stay, to finish the job, to dismantle the stage and go home.


Avishai started yelling at Dror, and he told him "Bro, I don't want to argue with you or to fight, we are a team here, don't worry it will be fine". ‏So we went to the other exit from the party, on our way to Avidan's home. ‏I had no idea. ‏After 2 kilometers, the car in front of us started to turn around and the people yelled "Stop!" They were Avishai's friends, they told us there were terrorists and they were shooting everywhere. ‏They got into our car really quickly, and we left in a rush. Their names were Gal and Maor, one of them had a panic attack, and the other had blood on his face. ‏I checked his body and figured out that he was ok and it was just a scratch, I told him not to worry.


For a few minutes, a few guys and I warned the other people not to go the way we had been going because it was dangerous, and we didn't know what's going on for sure. I called the police and begged them to block this road, because it was a big mess here: ‏"We have no idea what's going on and we need help immediately!".


It was 7:05 am. I sent Dror my location and told him "There is a big mess here, terrorists are shooting people, don't come here!" ‏I had no idea. We hid for a second, Avishai heard shots, and we headed toward Kibbutz Sa'ad, which is right opposite. ‏So far we saw two guys from a firing squad, one with a M16 and the other with a gun dressed with tzitzit without any shoes. ‏We entered the kibbutz, and I remembered there were other people from the kibbutz who were with us before. ‏And they started to arrive wounded, people just brought them in, I'm with MDA ambulance service on the line again trying to get help from someone. I sent a location, photos of the wounded people, and there were other people who are starting to treat the wounded.


”One man was lying there with Blundstone shoes but his foot was not there, there was only one shoe"


A guy named Noam arrived and told about an army vehicle that exploded. He was in extreme shock. ‏I saw him later on the news. Avishai used a jacket as a pillow for him. I was with Oz, who was a soldier who was on the way to reserve duty when he was shot in the shoulder and back. I automatically put on gloves and held his wounds. A paramedic came with a first aid kit from the kibbutz. ‏I had no idea, but from the time I was on hold with the ambulance, I didn't let go. ‏MDA was not coming and someone from the kibbutz decided that the seriously wounded must now be taken to Soroka Hospital [in Beer Sheva]. ‏Someone took out the seats in a private vehicle and put two stretchers in the back with the trunk open.


Avishai was with the driver in the front, and I was holding Oz next to a Thai couple. The woman had been shot in the spine, and her boyfriend did not respond and was in total shock, I could not communicate with him. ‏I talked to Oz. He asked me if I have diabetes, and we laughed at him because he had been shot twice. We were completely exposed. I asked the driver if there is a way to avoid closing the trunk on their feet, ‏because it was really close, he said that he would do his best. We saw an ambulance and stopped next to it, Oz was lying on the floor and asked me not to let go. ‏I told him that everything would be fine now. There was a doctor and he would get treatment.


"I told Michael Cohen to come and see, someone opened the "door and it was another dead body


The doctor checked Oz and his blood pressure was high and the metrics were running wild. I let go for a second because the doctor needed some space. I got up and I saw that there were other people lying around, wounded. ‏Next to them on the other side of the bus station there were other people. ‏One man was lying there with Blundstone shoes but his foot was not there, there was only one shoe. I looked at his face, his eyes were open and there was hell around. I stare at him for a moment and he looks so calm and peaceful. Next to him I saw a girl. ‏This picture was erased from my head.


The rest of them were covered with a blanket, I think it took me a few minutes to realize that they were all dead bodies. ‏In the car next to me, someone was in such an unusual position, back in the car. ‏I told Michael Cohen to come and see, someone opened the door and it was another dead body. ‏Shay was also there, he was telling me that his girlfriend had been shot in the car and that he was trying to give her CPR.


I went behind the station for a second, I had a panic attack, I recognized it straight away and tried to breathe because it was not the time right then to have one. ‏I had no idea. In the ambulance, we were with Oz, and he asked me to come with him. Avishai and I went to Soroka.


It was 8:30 am. Dror texted me "Are you ok?"

“Yeah, I'm with a wounded man on the way to Soroka.”

"Take care"

“Where are you?”

We are under the stage. It's crazy. It's a fucking terror attack. I saw people explode. Bodies everywhere. It's crazy in here."

”What's going on? Are you safe?”

"We are under the stage. Shots fired from every direction. On the floor, we hope for the best."


I had 2% battery. I wrote him one last message: “I don't have any battery. Talk to Avishai. Take care.”


At 9:12, Dror sent me a purple heart. I had no idea. On the way to Soroka, a blue car stopped in front of us and someone ran towards the ambulance. A guy who had just been shot, and his fingers had been taken off, was asking the paramedic if he had something in his neck - was there a bullet? Could he drive like that?


"She told me that there were many wounded people and that they had no bodies yet."


The paramedic confirmed that he had been shot. ‏Avishai drove his car and we arrived at Soroka. ‏There were lots of people there, mostly Arabs, everything was still fresh and all the time we heard a lot of red alerts. We were hiding in a parking lot during the sirens. A few moments later we went to the emergency room and we asked at the reception if they knew anything about Avishai's friend, because we've just heard that he had been killed. She told me that there were many wounded people and that they had no bodies yet.I had no idea. “How many people are wounded…? How many people are dead?”


I charged my phone at 10:42, and I sent a message to Dror immediately.

10:42:

“?????”

”What's going on with you guys?”

“?????”


12:41:

”Drorrrr.”

”I beg you, answer me.”


I had no idea. That day we left the hospital in one of the vehicles that left the south to Tel Aviv. ‏And they took us to Hadid, after that to Afula, and since then we have been here. Since then we have tried to understand the impact of this terror attack. To understand where all my friends from the team that built a stage together are now? ‏It's hard to explain, to myself, to other people, to the families of the fallen, but I'm trying my best because it's important that they will be remembered!!!


"All of them were murdered by savage terrorists, probably under the same stage, the stage that they had built, TOGETHER."


Dror Bahat!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avidan Turgeman!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oded Abargel!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shoval Yaakov!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's so f*cking weird to write "R.I.P" next to their names. ‏All of them were murdered by savage terrorists, probably under the same stage, the stage that they had built, TOGETHER.

They were all laid to rest, Dror and Shoval at the same day, and Avidan and Oded the day after.


My heart breaks in so many pieces, and sometimes the pain is unbearable. Because how can you cry for so many people at the same time? ‏So much light has been taken from this world now and there are not enough words to describe those people. I know there are tons of fallen people, but I wanted you to know that they were with me back there. And when people ask me "Did you build the stage?" I say "They did." Because I was just the designer. The world is really hard without them.


You wanted to stay to finish the job, to come back home with the stage, satisfied and relaxed. ‏You wanted to stay because you had no idea. Two days ago I wrote a post on Facebook, and good people came to help us with the stage. ‏I know for sure that you would have done the same for other people. ‏We didn't have a chance to celebrate like we wanted to. We said that I was going to make you an amazing Indian-dinner style, like in the old days.

And now it's not possible.


I'll remember this day forever and ever. I really got to know you, all of you. And I'm glad that I took some of the light from you because now there's a lot of darkness.

Rest In Peace


Liraz U.





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