Nova Event 7.10.23 | What happened there?

(Image courtesy of author)

In Raanana, after a cozy Friday night dinner, I was excited to head south with my friend for a festival. My family wasn’t too sure about these festivals, and we playfully argued about it. Little did we know that this festival would turn into something really scary.

The festival was supposed to be a joyful place with music and dancing, drawing free-spirited people from all over. However, at 6:30 am, everything changed. Sirens blared, and we saw hundreds of missiles heading our way. Sadly, this wasn’t new for us Israelis; we’ve been through it before.

We rushed back to our campsite, packed up, and tried to leave. The parking lot was chaotic, and I suggested going a different way, heading south towards Reem. Little did we know that this decision would change everything.

On the road, people urgently told us to turn around. A strange-looking car approached, covered in bullet holes. Inside was Shani, a scared girl, trying to get out with a bad leg injury. As we helped Shani with her wound, we heard automatic gunfire in the distance. Shani’s struggle hit us hard; it was a really tough and emotional moment.

As the situation grew more frightening, we found ourselves in a valley for safety. Bullets flew over our heads, and it was a really tense and emotional time. We heard gunfire from the north, coming from the Beeri direction. I saw terrorists from a distance before we found shelter in the valley.

A short moment later, mass shootings started in the Beeri area, north of us. The sound of heavy gunfire intensified our fear. In the midst of this chaos, I checked my phone to assess our surroundings and our current location. My friend answered the phone, promising his sister everything would be okay. I screamed for everyone to get down, and we decided to head towards Patish, more than 24 km away.

Walking through fields without food or water for over four hours was really tough. The fear and uncertainty made it even harder. Almost fainting, my friend found a single grapefruit that gave us enough energy to finish the long walk to Patish. During this journey, we heard automatic gunfire, adding to the chilling reality.

Finally reaching Patish, we felt relief, but emotions were mixed because we learned friends were missing, and there were rumors of many people hurt or worse at the festival.

A bus came to take us away, bringing us to Beer Sheba and then Tel Aviv. Getting home safe later in the afternoon, I hugged my family, letting them know I was okay.

The sad truth is, four people I knew, including two friends from high school, didn’t make it. Over 350 innocent people lost their lives in the festival attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. Sharing this story is vital, not only to remember the fallen and support their families but also to contribute to the narrative of Israel’s resilience in the face of adversity. The importance of telling this story lies in keeping their memories alive and fostering a shared understanding of the challenges our nation faces.

About the Author
Yoni Diller is an Israeli terror attack survivor and advocate who focuses on Jewish resilience, fighting antisemitism, Israeli affairs, and geopolitics. He has a degree in political science and extensive experience in leadership, activism, and public speaking.
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