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The way out felt like passing the hallway between hell and back to life

My name is Tomer, and I would like to tell my story and share my experience of what happened at…

The way out felt like passing the hallway between hell and back to life

My name is Tomer, and I would like to tell my story and share my experience of what happened at the Nova music festival. You can share this story if you feel you want to, maybe it will help reach higher authorities because whatever has been published in the media doesn’t even begin to describe what really went on on Saturday, October 7th.

THE STORY CONTAINS VERY GRAPHIC DETAILS AND I WILL NOT THE NAME THE REAL NAMES OF THOSE MENTIONED IN THE TESTIMONY TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY

As you know, it started off as a party to celebrate freedom. With good people, fun people. It was a party which was supposed to host 4-5 thousand people of all ages. I arrived at the party at around 9pm. I drove there early to prepare an art exhibit together with an employee from my studio (G) and another friend (M) who joined us.

6:00AM

In the morning, rocket alarms and interception sounds went off. At this moment, the music obviously stopped, and so did the event. Everyone at the party started quickly grabbing their belongings and moving towards to road exit.

6:45 AM

We gathered together, myself, G, and M, while hearing gunshots about 300 meters from us, the same noise you hear at a gun range. We folded our art equipment and loaded up the car. We weer scared to drive forward because there was a traffic jam of cars at the exit so we preferred to wait a little bit to drive without any stops. We also wanted to somehow try to figure out what was happening around us.

8:00 AM

I got some calls from people who drove with their vehicles saying they were evicted from their vehicles and were asked to go by foot to the nearby fields because there were terrorists waiting on the roads. We stayed close to our car to be ready for a quick getaway.

8:15 AM

We now see many people running in panic from the entrance back towards the party area. The three of us ran to the woods while hearing shots whistle above our heads and objects taking hits from bullets all around us. At some point, while we were running, a person named R who knew me from one of the stands at the party quickly took me and M to his car and we tried to drive away from the scene together. Then I noticed that G who came with us kept running and we lost eye contact with her. M and I got out of the car and tried to find her. While we ran with masses of people around us, I managed to speak to her on the phone. I heard the panic and horror in her voice, trying to calm her down so she could tell me what she saw around her and so I could find her.

As M and I run deeper into the woods to get away from the gunshots behind us, suddenly a load of people run back towards us. I now understand we are surrounded from all directions.

The bullets are racing above our heads from every direction. I tell M ‘Stay close to the trees and follow me.’ Still on the phone with g as she tells me she got on one of the vehicles with another 8 people on it, trying to escape now close to the text. I told her to keep me posted and hung up to try to save my phone battery.

8:30 AM

I now notice I do hear people screaming anymore. Just the gunshots getting closer and bullets hitting everything in sight.

At a certain point, it was just myself and M. We try to keep moving until we saw a small shed. This was where they sold tickets for the party, right at the entrance. The door to the shed was locked, we looked inside through the window and saw there 4 people inside – 2 women and 2 men. They opened the door and we went inside. At that moment started a long journey of anxiety, fear, and patience. As we tried to keep it together, minutes felt like hours.

8:50 AM

M, myself, and the 4 people we hid with are all hiding under a 30 counter in a small shed with windows all around it. We know now we are completely surrounded, and we just have to sit tighter quietly and wait. I called G, quietly and she told me she was out and safe.

As for me, I served in the army and have been in operations in Gaza before. I listened to the sounds around me, trying to figure out which weapons they had, sharing all my thoughts with those with me in the shed. It turns out that almost everything I told them was wrong. I thought I heard a shooting battle between the Israeli army or police and the terrorists. But then I found out it was the terrorists just shooting masses of party participants. I saw all of this looking through the window of the shed.

At some point, we heard the terrorists talking very close to our shed. We tried to be as quiet as possible, not making a peep. We had to pee in our pants so that we wouldn’t move even for a second. At some point, they tried to open the door of the shed but it was locked. They moved on. Suddenly they fired their weapons on the shed. Even as we were being shot at, we tried to keep silent so they won’t know we are then. When they finally stopped, we realized we were hurt.

One guy got shot in the pelvis and the bullet was left through his stomach. The other guy got a bullet to the knee, and M was injured by a bullet trace. The two girls weren’t harmed.

10:00 AM

We begin to panic. There’s no backup. We don’t hear anyone anymore. Only the terrorists speaking in Arabic yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ and they are so close to us – right next us. I’m trying to send my location to people on the phone. We feel that any minute now they will get inside. We hear gunshots, tanks, and missiles. Each time we thought it was the Israeli army. But later found out that it was the terrorists again, launching heavy ammunition on everyone they got their hands on.

At that point we just laid there, hopeless. Each person to themselves, covered in their own blood and pee. I tried to fall asleep because I didn’t want to feel what it was like to die.

Time passes, and every little sound someone makes petrifies us. We stay silent. Suddenly I open my eyes and see one of the girls talking to someone in Hebrew asking him if he’s from the security services. He was standing right next to us, but it was a terrorist. He tells us in English ‘MONEY, MONEY’. So we gave him our money, then he yells ‘PHONE, PHONE’. So everyone gave him their phone, except for me. I didn’t want him to know I had one. And then he just left.

Now they know for sure we are there. We have nowhere to escape. Two of us are very wounded and can’t walk. I ask one of the men in the room ‘What do we do? And he tells me it’s not up to us anymore. There’s nothing left for us to do. So I just sat there hugging his legs, and he was hugging his wife.

At this point, I was just accepting that was it. I’m going to die. Nothing mattered anymore. I just sat there waiting for them to return and kill us all. We layed there, fire still going strong all around us. They were just shooting and slaughtering anyone in sight. We are all numb just waiting for our death.

12:30 PM

4 hours already we are here. Filled with blood, urine, and pain. Waiting. At a certain point, I started to think about my cat. Who will feed him when I’m gone?

Suddenly we heard a word in Hebrew. We had a little hope in our hearts, but we kept silent still. We were scared it was the terrorists trying to lure us out because they already know we are there. We waited some more and started hearing people speaking in Hebrew. I look outside the window and see Israeli forces – just like the movies.

They open the door and get us out, one by one. We all burst into tears. We got our life back. Death was right next to us, looking us in the eye. But we stayed alive.

The bodies I saw. The shape they were in. It’s not murder. It’s not killing. I have no words to describe the atrocities. Entire families, and bodies desecrated beyond what the mind can handle.

The way out felt like passing the hallway between hell and back to life. It was a mile of roads filled with bodies. I could count somewhere between 500-700 of them. Everywhere I turned, bodies were shot, burned, violated, and decapitated. There are no words.

I could not stand the trauma, evil, and suffering I’ve seen. I look at the sky and cry for hours non-stop. I waited to get home and wash myself from everything.

I arrived back home at 12 am, covered with blood, urine, and the worst of all – completely soaked in evil. I went to shower and slept for 20 hours straight. I still cannot believe I’m alive. I walk around the streets crying from what I’ve seen. This was the most difficult experience I’ve ever hard to go through. But I’m a tough man, who ist just grateful to have his life back.

Tomer M.