newsIsrael at War

Survivors of the Negev rave massacre describe the horrifying day

Around 300 concertgoers were murdered and hundreds more were wounded.

The aftermath in southern Israel, where hundreds of civilians were murdered on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
The aftermath in southern Israel, where hundreds of civilians were murdered on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

It was billed as a celebration of “friends, love and infinite freedom.” While millions of Israelis celebrated the Simchat Torah holiday, many others were using the time to party.

The weekend-long outdoor trance music festival, called the Supernova Sukkot Gathering, was supposed to be a fun event for the 3,000 mostly young Israelis who attended. But that isn’t what happened. In a day of many horrific events, the festival massacre that ensued was likely the worst of all.

Situated just 2.5 miles from the Gaza border, in the fields between Kibbutz Re’im and Kibbutz Be’eri, it started as a typical outdoor rave party. There was a camping ground, three stages, colorful, psychedelic-patterned tents and a bar.

Pictures taken the night before the massacre show many tattooed couples in their 20s, bare-chested men and women wearing tank tops, smiling and holding up cups of beer. But the all-night partying ended in a blood-soaked dawn.

Around 6:15 a.m., sunrise, sirens sounded as Katyusha rockets began hitting nearby—not an uncommon occurrence in the area. The concertgoers started to pack up and disperse.

But suddenly, some 50 Hamas terrorists arrived in vans, while others, using motorized paragliders, joined them. They quickly cut off the electricity and began spraying the crowd with machine gunfire.

Dozens were cut down.

Hundreds of concertgoers fled across the fields toward their cars, but the wide-open terrain left few places to hide. Some hid in nearby groves of trees but the terrorists followed and methodically picked them off one by one. Others, who ran into nearby brush and bushes, fared better.

Drone footage shows the aftermath of the Hamas massacre at the Supernova Sukkot Gathering in southern Israel. Credit: South First Responders.

Took over the base

One group of friends managed to get to their car and drive away, but they didn’t get far.

“We followed others onto the paved road where there was a long line of cars stopped at a roadblock,” said Adi. “At first we thought they were Israeli policemen, but they weren’t—they were Arab terrorists.

“They waited until many cars had stopped and then pulled out a MAG heavy machine gun and sprayed the cars with machine-gun fire. Many people were slaughtered. When we saw this we quickly turned around and started driving away. Two bullets hit me—one in the shoulder and another in the hand.

“We drove toward a nearby army base, hoping to get help. When we arrived at the base we saw 13 soldiers in front of the main gate. We thought they were IDF soldiers, but they were Hamas terrorists who had taken over the base,” Adi continued.

“When we were 20 meters away they opened fire on us, spraying our car with bullets. All of us were hit—one in the head, one in the hips. Then they threw a grenade at us.

“We all got out of the car and ran in the opposite direction. As I’m running away from them I can hear the bullets flying by my head; other bullets singed my sneakers. They kept firing at us, dozens and dozens of bullets, but none of them hit us. It was simply a miracle,” Adi said.

“We ran and ran until we found an [army] firing range and hid there for three or four hours, while we made tourniquets for ourselves to stop the bleeding.

“Then IDF commandos came and fought with the terrorists. It was a full-scale firefight complete with RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] rockets. After a long, heroic battle, the commandos won and liberated the base.

“Finally, IDF soldiers approached us, but they thought we were terrorists and began shooting. We yelled that we were Israelis and they stopped. In the end, an army helicopter came to take away the wounded,” Adi said.

Hid in the greenhouses

Not everyone caught in the gunfire died. One group of about 100 lying on the ground was saved when IDF soldiers arrived and used their bodies as human shields to protect the civilians behind them. The concertgoers saw these soldiers fall one by one.

Others such as Leora and her boyfriend ran toward nearby Kibbutz Nir Oz, where they hid in the greenhouses.

“We covered ourselves with leaves to conceal ourselves. During the many hours we hid, we heard terrorists talking just a few meters away from us. I was certain we were all going to die. I even sent text messages to my family and friends, saying goodbye to them all. Finally, we heard soldiers who said they were from the IDF. We ran from our hiding place to greet them.”

When Lali Shitrit and her boyfriend, Dor Kapach, heard the shooting they ran to their jeep and took off. Along the way, they took on three strangers while reciting Shema Yisrael, the central Jewish prayer.

“We were being shot at from every direction. Then we saw an IDF jeep at the top of a hill and looking for protection approached it, but there were no soldiers in it, only some blood and a rifle that didn’t work,” she said.

“On the road, we saw dozens of people being cut down by gunfire. So we escaped into the sand dunes. But there a group of 10 terrorists chased us. If it weren’t for the driving expertise of my boyfriend, I don’t know what would have happened to us. After we escaped them we stopped to try and figure out where we were. Everyone got out,” she continued.

Burnt and abandoned cars at the site of the Hamas massacre at the Supernova Sukkot Gathering in southern Israel. Credit: South First Responders.

Kibbutz overrun

“But suddenly, eight more terrorists on motorcycles spotted us. Only three of us made it back to the jeep. The passenger in the back got hit in the head by a bullet. Dor smashed into two terrorists on a motorcycle, killing one and throwing the other off his bike. We finally managed to escape and contact the police and they told us to go to Kibbutz Be’eri,” Shitrit said.

But the kibbutz had been overrun by terrorists.

“When we got to Kibbutz Be’eri we saw bodies of the dead strewn everywhere. Then we heard yelling in Arabic. We found an empty building and hid in the bathrooms. Only then did we realize it was the terrorists’ base,” Shitrit said.

“Suddenly we heard IDF soldiers shooting at the terrorists. We counted seven RPGs that hit our building, yet miraculously we weren’t hurt. Later, we heard the terrorists singing and we understood the IDF had left. All in all, we were in the bathroom for six hours. All that time I was holding a cloth to the head of the man hit in the head, while Dor held onto the door handle to prevent anyone from entering. I also texted with the man’s parents telling them that everything would be alright, even though I didn’t believe it myself,” she said.

“During this time some terrorists came in and opened every bathroom door except for ours. It was another miracle. Finally, IDF soldiers came in and freed us. It was a complete miracle that we managed to escape alive. God heard our prayers!” Shitrit said.

Ariel Surin, who, along with a friend, also escaped in his car, had outside help in his bid to survive.

“My friend managed to contact his father and he told us where to go and where not to go. My friend managed to do this despite the fact that he only had 2% left in his phone battery. We later saw many cars driving in the direction where we were told not to go, and this led them to their deaths,” Surin said.

Around 300 concertgoers were murdered and hundreds more were wounded.

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