My story from Nova [the music festival]: The Garden of Eden that turned into hell.
At 6:14 in the morning, Hadar and I went back to the dance area after taking a short break to drink water and rest before the sunrise music set. We were so happy as we walked towards the area, greeted by the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. Artifex was playing and we were surrounded by beautiful, happy people dancing. I couldn’t think of anything other than joy.
At 6:30, I was shooting a video in the dance area. As soon as I put the camera down, I started hearing booms. I asked myself whether I was imagining it, or whether I was really hearing rockets. The music stopped and they announced, "Red siren alert, the party is over, everyone evacuate."
Hadar and I looked at each other and started running to the kanta [tented resting area] while looking for Maya and Yarin. Once we got there, and while I was having the most terrifying panic attack that I’ve ever had, we gathered our things. Booms and interceptions echoed overhead, everyone was scattering in panic. Little did we know, this chaos was nothing compared to what was coming. People around us helped us load our equipment into the car and then we set out to reach Maya and Yarin.
At 7:09, once all four of us were in the car, we tried to leave the party area. I wrote a message to my mother, "There are missiles, we are in the car, we are fine, we are looking for a way to get out of here." There was a massive traffic jam at the exit, no one knew where to go. We reached the main road, asked someone where to go, and he said to the right. We turned right and sped along, passing migunits [small concrete roadside shelters] where we had hoped to find refuge, but there was no room. (Miracle number 1.)
“There was glass shattering, screams, stones being thrown, a barrage of live gunfire.”
We continued straight and slowed down as we drove towards a hazy scene. A few meters away, everything seemed blurred, complete chaos. There was glass shattering, screams, stones being thrown, a barrage of live gunfire. Yarin, who was driving, said they were armed. She turned the car around and drove back in the other direction. (Miracle number 2: they didn't harm us.)
We arrived back at the party area, everything was blocked, everyone was disoriented. There were no instructions from the few police officers and security personnel who were there. Suddenly, we saw a car drive at us from the direction we had just come from. The car was smashed and a girl ran out of it, covered in blood. Yarin said, “It’s Lior.” (She's fine today, thank God).
"Suddenly, we saw a car drive at us from the direction we had just come from. The car was smashed and a girl ran out of it, covered in blood. Yarin said, 'It’s Lior.'"
The four of us sat in the car, terrified, struggling to understand the magnitude of the situation. At this stage, we hadn’t yet grasped that there were terrorists out there. I was crying hysterically when someone approached me through the window and said, “Girls, relax, everything will be fine. There's nowhere to go right now. Get out of the car and let's look for a safe place, Don't be on your own.” (Miracle number 3, I don't know what would have happened if we had stayed there.)
We got out of the car and started heading towards a field, without knowing where we were going. All of the sudden, someone shouted, "Run, run!" and everyone started running and asking, "What happened? Why run?" Within a few meters, we saw a soldier who told us that there was fear of terrorist infiltration. I was on the phone with my brother, screaming, and we started running for our lives.
“Every now and then, I turned my head back and there were fewer people behind me.”
We ran for three hours, about 10 to 15 km, threading through prickly bushes alongside hundreds of other people, volleys of gunfire from every direction. There were missiles and interceptions above us. Little by little, people disappeared. Every now and then, I turned my head back and there were fewer people behind me. The police were not answering. Everyone was helpless. We were literally scared to death.
Everywhere we ran, the sound of gunfire grew closer. There were planes in the air. Behind us, everything was engulfed in flames, but we didn't stop. My body ached and burned, my legs didn’t have the strength to run. The air was thin, the sun had risen, it was hot, and there was no water, but we didn’t stop running.
We decided to go to one of the villages in the vicinity to look for shelter. (We still hadn’t grasped the magnitude of the situation, the number of terrorists, or the fact that no place was safe). Suddenly a car came racing in. I thought to myself, “That's it, it's over.” We noticed that it was an Israeli car and realized that these were people who had run away from the party. We shouted at them to stop and got into the car. (Miracle number 4.)
Orel is the guardian angel who saved our lives. An unbelievably modest guy who acted with incredible composure. Not only did he rescue us, but many others, and all of his friends as well. This guardian angel went back and forth from the field until he got all of his friends out of there. Along the way, he saved many more people.
We started driving and as we drove, we saw people running for their lives, vehicles riddled with bullets, people looking at us through the window, their eyes pleading for help. My heart ached at the sight. Orel drove without stopping, despite our pleas to pull over and look for a shelter. (Miracle number 5.)
We passed by the intersection at the entrance to Ofakim, saw the police station and Doron, a friend of Orel’s, asked us if we wanted to get off there. We screamed yes. At the last moment, Orel made a sharp turn at an incredible speed. We got out of the car and ran to the station. (Miracle number 6, what would have happened if we had continued driving on the main road?)
We were at the station for five long hours. Police officers and soldiers came in and out after battling with terrorists. There were people covered in blood, rumors of people being kidnapped and terrorists in Ofakim, rocket sirens when we went into the safe area, which was a detention cell at the station. We had no idea what was happening with Maya's father [who had left his home and come to save us], who had been unreachable for quite some time. Complete uncertainty filled with prayers and anxiety.
It was us and about 30 other people squeezed inside that small police station. There were about 100 more people outside, and we were still far from understanding the magnitude of the situation. At about 14:00, Yarin's father managed to reach us and drove us to Yarin's house. From there, each of us went to her own home.
Two weeks have passed, and I still don't understand what I went through. I can’t sleep, can’t eat, have nightmares, panic at every little noise, each one sounds like a gunshot. Funerals, the bad news that shows no sign of abating.
Since Saturday morning at 6:30, I feel like I am in one long day that never ends. I can’t distinguish between days and hours. I am waiting to wake up from this nightmare. Those who weren’t there can’t understand the horror, the lasting scars, the profound sadness and the enduring pain.
Mark Mordechai Peretz, Maya's father, came to save us and never returned.
Amit Levy and Shir Georgi were at the party and never returned.
In what reality does it make sense to bury friends, your father?
We were 20-year-old girls who went out to be happy and celebrate. We came back with a scar for life, and an unwritten testament on behalf of everyone who didn't come back: from this day forward not just to breathe, but to live. To appreciate life, every second, minute, hour and day on this earth. To be happy, to only care about the things that matter, to put everything into perspective.
“They massacred us, our country, our land and there is no place that feels safe now.”
We were looking forward to this party, the music, the beautiful people, the smiles, the light, and suddenly, we were faced with darkness, strong black darkness. Videos and photos from the seconds before radiate with colors and happiness, eyes brimming with innocence. Who could have imagined that an event of this magnitude would happen to us? For those who don't know, the community of nature parties is made up of the most beautiful people, full of light and joy, and it breaks my heart [that this happened]. We are survivors of a sick horror, I don't know when I will really be able to process this.
I received a second life as a gift. There is the life before, a life which I can hardly remember anything about, and there is the life after. From now on, I will celebrate my birthday twice a year, and this new one will carry more pain than I have ever known. In another world, I would never publish something like this, so personal and painful, but today’s reality is different.
Every story must be heard, the world must know. My story may seem trivial compared to other stories, but the thought that I, my friends, our families, and thousands more have to live with that day, the seventh of October, for the rest of our lives, it's just not fair. They massacred us, our country, our land and there is no place that feels safe now.