It all started with the best party we have ever been to, with beautiful people and great music; everybody was in sync.
At 6:30 in the morning, the music abruptly stopped, and people lifted their heads; we saw clouds of smoke from intercepted rockets and rockets that had fallen nearby.
At that moment, we didn’t understand the magnitude of the disaster, and I immediately told my friends that I felt like I was in a battlegroup in Gaza, since I had been through an event like this during my military service.
I told my friends to return to the canopied area, take only the important things, get back to the car, drive to the nearest junction, and enter a bomb shelter. In retrospect, that was the worst idea I could have offered, and luckily, we never did it.
We started to leave the parking lot, but there was a huge traffic jam. Eventually, we managed to reach the road and took a left towards the north, towards Kibbutz Be’eri. After a few hundred meters, people started to make U-turns through the solid white center line in the road, and they were yelling from the window to turn around; there were mortar bombs. After a few minutes, we understood that it was actually terrorist groups firing non-stop.
“And then we realized that, most likely, there were already dead bodies on the road”
We reached the traffic jam at the edge of the parking lot; everything was chaotic. We drove by a police car and an ambulance, and through the window, I heard them shouting, “We have an MCI! We have an MCI and a Turkish horseman”. MCI stands for multiple casualty incident and Turkish horseman is code for infiltration.
A girl and a guy, both with bullet wounds on their feet, reached the ambulance, and the bursts of gunfire coming from the south were getting closer. We didn’t understand why people weren’t driving forward, and then we realized that, most likely, there were already dead bodies on the road.
We decided to ditch the car and started running into the fields. Every few minutes, we stopped in some thicket to decide what to do, and in the end, we just kept running. Scenarios were running through our heads non-stop. Many people were running in the fields with us (hundreds of people), and during one of the sprints, we saw a police car with a police officer, who had a bullet wound in his leg. He exited the car, let a girl into it, and then continued running on foot.
Each sprint was a few hundred meters, and whenever we reached a certain area, bursts of gunfire were shot in our direction. We ran on foot for around two hours, and the only thing going through my head was, “No matter what happens, just don’t look back”, I didn’t want to see the horrors and the people falling by my side.
One half of my brain was optimistic – everything will be okay. But the other was more pessimistic – they’re surrounding us from every direction, and this is the end. The bursts of gunfire were getting closer, and it felt like this was the end – but we kept running.
During the last sprint, which lasted around two minutes, we felt the bursts of gunfire on top of us, but thank god I was a combatant in the army, and I knew that during these situations, you need to run inside a stream or close to thickets, and that is where I navigated my friends to during the run. I will never be able to say for certain whether that is what saved us or not…
We reached a steep uphill incline, containing agricultural land, I’m reminding you that at this point, the bursts of gunfire had already reached us; if I had looked back, I’m sure I would have seen horrors…
We reached the top of the agricultural land and saw many cars belonging to people from the party who had managed to escape from the road into the fields. I yelled at my friends to enter the first car they saw so we could escape. I tried to enter one of the cars, but it was locked, and I knocked on the window so they would open the car.
“They’re surrounding us from every direction, and this is the end.”
At this point, the bursts of gunfire are so close that when a bullet hits close to you, it is incredibly loud. They opened the door for us, we jumped inside and escaped. After a few minutes, we could no longer hear the gunfire. I opened Google Maps and saw we were moving away from the Israeli-Gaza border and about to reach Route 232.
Route 232 would later be covered in hundreds of bodies and burnt cars, but the road led us to Kibbutz Tze’elim. Thank God and the miracles that kept us alive and okay.
I would like to mention my good friend Dorin Attias z”l (stands for “May their memory be for a blessing” – often added to the name of the deceased).
Adding z”l to the end of your name feels absurd, like a weird dream.
Dorin’s last phone call was to me, but I couldn’t answer because I was running for my life.
I love and miss you, I will never forget you; you will always be with me.