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The terrorists were at our doorstep. I sat there with my son, petrified

  • Natalya K.'s story

You’re running and someone is running next to you, and suddenly they fall

It’s very difficult to talk about it, to recount the events. People just came to have fun, relax, it was the weekend, everyone was young and beautiful and happy, and they all came to have a good time. Take a break from the chaos of work and school, rest from the hardships that accompany us throughout the week. They came to a nature party to get closer to nature, to be as humans are meant to be, to come and dress however they want, to have fun, dance, listen to music, have a good time with friends.


The festival had received permissions from all the organizations: police, fire, medical departments. Between 10 and 11 pm, the gates opened, people arrived, and everyone was happy. There was music. You could feel the atmosphere, just fun and free.


Natalya K. and Awa Mosa Darawshy who was murdered

[Me and Awad Mosa Darawshy, the medic on the team, who was murdered. May he rest in peace]


And the party started. We were there as the medical team, and people were always coming over, saying hello, thanking us for coming, thanking us for being there with them. There were lots of security teams, young people, men and women. We were in charge of the field clinic, we had three ambulances, one for intensive care and the other two were basic ones.


There were a lot of people and everyone had brought their own equipment, tents. The night started out fun, the music started. Every now and then, we patrolled the area, saw that everyone was enjoying themselves, having fun, dancing, and then at around 4 am, I entered an ambulance with another paramedic and we napped for a bit.

I didn’t even know what time it was, it was morning.


"After a while someone shouted 'There’s gunfire! They’re shooting at cars that are leaving.'"

I heard someone shout “Siren!” through the walkie-talkie. We stepped out of the ambulance and saw rockets and explosions overhead. Since the siren didn’t stop, we started helping people get to their cars as calmly as possible. Some people even said, “Just a few rockets, it’s no big deal”.


Since the rocket barrage was non-stop, the music was turned off and we started to understand that it was going on longer than usual. The girls started to get stressed out, some had panic attacks, so we started running from one girl to the next, trying to calm them down.


Some of the kids [“kids” refers to the people who attended the Nova festival] managed to help each other, maybe some of them were medics or paramedics or nurses, and then we were asked to take an ambulance and go to the parking lot to direct cars out, since it had become very scary. I don’t remember how long it took, but we were in the parking lot, trying to direct cars, and the cars had started heading out, and after a while someone shouted “There’s gunfire! They’re shooting at cars that are leaving.”


"We drove quickly to the clinic, people started coming in with injuries to their hands and legs."


We didn’t even believe it. We said, “It can’t be, it’s not real!” But then we received a call on the internal radio system that we urgently needed to go back to the clinic since someone had been shot. We drove quickly to the clinic, people started coming in with injuries to their hands and legs. We started administering treatment, but what [equipment] do ambulances have? Two basic ones and one intensive care ambulance that were equipped for a party? A nature party.


People started joining us, saying they were medics and helping us with bandages, IVs. But when a lot of kids started streaming in, we understood that we had a problem. A guy named Daniel came and asked me how he could help. Later, I saw his picture on Facebook. [Daniel Sheinkerman, who was murdered at the festival.]



burnt car

We put an injured girl into the ambulance, treated her, and gave her morphine. We thought about taking her to Soroka Hospital [in Be’er Sheva]; no one thought it [the shooting] would reach us. We thought it was shrapnel, no one believed it was gunshot wounds. I asked Daniel to try and calm her down. He sat with her, held her, tried to calm her, and said, “I’m here with her,” so I left to treat the rest of the people who were there.


Every now and then, I peeked back into the ambulance. “How are you?” “Everything’s okay.” The next time I peeked in, Daniel said that the girl was cold. I ran to the security team’s tent, asked for a blanket, and they gave me a coat. Another kid came and told me he was having a panic attack. I told him, “Go to the security team’s tent, there are other kids there, try to calm each other down. I need to help the injured people.”

"Awad, a senior medic who was with us, came to me and said, 'Natalya, it’s really happening to us, it’s real.'"


There were so many kids there, and they were all terrified. We still hadn’t realized that the gunshots were getting closer. Around us were non-stop sirens and rockets, and I was focused on treating the people in the clinic. Awad, a senior medic who was with us, came to me and said, “Natalya, it’s really happening to us, it’s real.” I told him that I was scared, that I want to go home. We hugged and said that we need to be strong and carry on.


“I started hearing bullets whistle by me. And everyone, anyone who could run, ran.”


We continued treating people. He was with one injured person and I was with another, and we kept hearing in the walkie-talkie, “Guys, come and take injured people.” It never stopped. More and more injured people. They brought us a girl who was riddled with bullets, the paramedic who was with us told me, “Natalya, you have to open a vein and get ready for intubation.” I took the catheter and suddenly someone pulled me, someone from my team, and he yelled “Run, run!” and I realized that the gunfire was right next to us. I started hearing bullets whistle by me. And everyone, anyone who could run, ran.


I have no idea where I ran to. I have no idea how I had the energy to run. I ran and I couldn’t have run any faster. I started lying to myself, telling myself that I was going to be home any second, within a few minutes I would be on my couch at home. I’ll never forget the sound of bullets whistling by me, the sound of death. You’re running and someone is running next to you, and suddenly they fall.


We ran like rabbits, from side to side, forwards and backwards, just not straight, gunshots and bullets whistling from every direction. Luckily, we had headed towards Be’er Sheva.

God directed me, a path of trees, an empty trail, a sparse orchard, and we kept hearing them [the terrorists] yell “Allahu Akbar,” all mixed with sirens and explosions.


We stayed together, me, someone else from the medical team, and a girl from the party. We tried to protect her as much as possible. When we entered the orchard, we stopped for a second to hear where the shots were coming from, but they were from every direction.


At some point, I have no idea how much time had gone by, I said I couldn’t [run] anymore, without water, my tongue was already stuck. The guy also said he couldn’t run anymore, and we fell right where we had stopped, under a tree in the orchard, and played dead. It didn’t end. When you’re lying on the ground, there’s no reception, and we were trying to get in touch with someone, to get someone to save us, to let them know where we were, so I lifted my arm for a few seconds so that the messages could be sent.


“Make a hole, hide, since we can’t get there. Don’t even breathe.”

I sent a message to someone I knew from the police, “Save us.” I sent him our location and wrote, “Please.” He replied, “It’s impossible. Make a hole, hide, since we can’t get there. Don’t even breathe.”And I understood that I would be staying in this orchard, and we wouldn’t be getting out alive. You force yourself to accept the situation, that this is how it’s going to end. We were there for about three to five hours, we have no idea how long.


At some point, the guy from the team understood that we were at one end of the orchard, and that there was a group of people at the other end, so we moved to the other end of the orchard, which opened up to a field, around 800 meters, and at the other end there were civilian cars that started blinking at us with their headlights. The police officer had written to me, “Be careful, don’t believe anyone. They [the terrorists] are dressed up, as police officers, soldiers, civilians. Don’t trust anyone if you’re not completely sure it’s one of us.”


One of the cars drove towards us, and a guy with a yarmulke came out and said, “Injured people first, quickly.” I understood that this was our moment to escape, and we started piling people into the car, as many as possible. We got in another car that came by, and in the civilian car, next to the driver, were military border guards. They took us to the gas station in Ofakim, there we gathered for a bit, and I saw the guy who had pulled me out of there. The store at the gas station was closed, and we took all the water that was outside, I hope they forgive us.


"She was covered in scratches from bullets on her hands and back, and I told her, 'It’s behind us. You’re alive.'"


There was a guy with a gunshot wound in his leg, and we put on a tourniquet. A girl sat to the side and cried. She was covered in scratches from bullets on her hands and back, and I told her, “It’s behind us. You’re alive.” She said, “I’m alive because I hid among corpses.”


A soldier came and said, “I’ll take them in my car, load up as many as possible.” I helped load a few people, who were taken straight to Soroka Hospital. Cars started arriving to pick up the kids, as well as the girl who had run with us. Someone from my team called someone, and they picked us up from there. We stopped at the entrance to Ofakim. Barely ten minutes passed and we got a message, that there had been gunshots at the gas station we had just left. We continued to Soroka, we thought we could help treat people there.


In the orchard, I spoke with God as if he was my friend. I told him, “Okay, if you’ve decided that today is the day, no problem, you decide. But I get one request. I ask that it be quick.”

I didn’t ask God to get out of there, I didn’t believe I’d make it out. I just asked that it should be quick. I lay down and imagined how my kids grow up without me, and that I’d support them from above.


“The gates of hell opened up that morning, and through those gates, the devil and his friends came in.”


A week has gone by and I feel like it happened yesterday. The kids who came to enjoy themselves, to relax. For what? Why? What are they guilty of? This is not a war between religions. This is a war between man and a monster. Man is not capable of this. Neither is an animal. I have no idea how I made it out. I can’t explain it. Why did I make it out alive when all those kids died there. I had come to treat drunk people, scratches, bruises, and people who had simply come to enjoy themselves. The gates of hell opened up that morning, and through those gates the devil and his friends came in.


Natalya K.




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