When we got to Nova, we were so excited and we drank a bit too much. Very quickly, I went to sleep in the tent to rest a bit and sober up. My friend, Noam, woke me up at around 6 in the morning. “Wake up Alma, there are rockets over your head.”
I left the tent and saw the sky filled with trails of intercepted rockets and I heard the booms. Around me, everyone was packing up and the production announced that the party was over and that we should leave the area. Noam, Einav, Gal, May and I ran to one car and Amit, Gal and Anat ran to the other and we abandoned our things at the party site.
At this point, I still believed that there were only rockets, and I argued with my friends that we still had time to pack up our things. As someone who has been living in the area bordering the Gaza Strip for the last year, I wasn’t afraid. We got into the car and got stuck in a traffic jam at the parking lot’s exit, and around us there was panic. Noam was starting to stress out and we discussed leaving the car and running and I tried to calm her down, positive that everything was okay.
Suddenly, people started shouting that their car had been shot and that there were injured people. I saw a car with bullet holes and noticed the sound of gunfire around me. I didn’t see the injured people next to me. I didn’t see the terrorists that had surrounded us. But they had surrounded us from both the left and the right. And there was no way of escaping with a car.
We jumped out of the car and left it there with the key in the ignition and started running east. I saw a few police officers around me, who were apparently injured, and they did not know in what direction to direct us, there was complete chaos.
While they were shooting at us from the direction of the party, I left the road towards the field with Einav, Gal, Noam and May. Einav started panicking and ran ahead and I lost her. Later on, I lost the rest of the group and continued running alone, while hearing gunfire behind me and still not processing that I was in a warzone.
Suddenly, we started hearing gunfire from ahead, and it was closer, and someone yelled that he saw two terrorists coming toward us and shooting at us and I started to run backward, towards the south.
While everyone was running in every direction, I ran without looking back, the gunfire was close behind us. I went back to the road and we hid behind the cars. A group of people I didn’t know, who didn’t know each other either, hid behind a car and realized that it was turned on and they got into the car. One of them, Avi, who sat in the front, yelled at me to join them even though there was no room and I sat on his lap.
Avi drove like crazy, dealing with the fields and bullets and rockets and everyone’s panic.
Terrorists on motorcycles were slaughtering people. Meanwhile, the police were unavailable and we were driving without knowing which direction was safe.
We drove past an army officer (who at first we thought was a terrorist) who stood alone at the side of the road and he directed us how to reach Netivot. Through fields and shortcuts we reached Netivot and families on balconies recognized us and invited us in.
At first, we were in the house of an Orthodox family. After that, we went to Ofra’s house, who took us in as if we were her own children. We went from the balcony, overlooking the fields we had just escaped and the areas going up in flames and the sounds of gunfire, to the safe room.
We stayed there until the evening, Chen, Avi and I, until a friend of Avi’s mom drove us to Tel Aviv. All the while sirens were blaring and rockets were flying above our heads. We reached Tel Aviv safe and sound.
Amit, Gal, Anat, Noam, May, Einav, Eitel and Gal were rescued from Patish [one of the villages in the surrounding Gaza Strip area]. Thank God we left as a group of nine beautiful people, and returned as a group of nine. Thank God Avi yelled at me to get into the car. Thank God I’m here. We will continue celebrating, to honor all the people who are no longer with us.