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Israeli woman hides in the woods for hours: being hunted by Hamas at the Supernova music festival

It was around 7:00 a.m. when the terrifying reality truly unfolded. Gunfire echoed in our ears as gas choked the air. Terrorists emerged from every direction, their weapons indiscriminately claiming lives. My friends and I scattered, and I found myself alone with Zohar and her boyfriend.

  • 8 months ago
  • October 26, 2023
6 min read
Prior to the massacre at the Supernova music festival, smoke trails from missiles were visible in the sky | Photo courtesy Amit Ganish Prior to the massacre at the Supernova music festival, smoke trails from missiles were visible in the sky | Photo courtesy Amit Ganish
Interview subject
Amit Ganish is a 23-year-old native Israeli. She is an active community sports enthusiast and is on track to complete her law degree. She bravely survived the massacre on October 7, 2023 during the Supernova music festival. Despite the festival’s initial promise of peace and love, it tragically turned into a scene of bloodshed, death, and terror. Around 6:30 a.m., the first missiles struck, followed by a barrage of gunshots as Hamas terrorists attacked civilians. Amit survived.
background information
The conflict ignited on October 7, 2023, when thousands of Hamas fighters breached a border fence, catching Israeli soldiers and civilians off guard as they opened fire indiscriminately. In a coordinated assault, other militants invaded Israeli beaches via motorboats, while some conducted aerial attacks using paragliders.

According to Israeli officials, the ongoing violence has resulted in over 1,400 deaths, including children, and left more than 4,500 injured. The U.S. State Department confirms that at least 32 Americans are among the casualties.

For more information access the U.S. Department of State Press Briefing, October 19, 2023. Link

RE’IM, Israel — My friend Zohar and I eagerly made our way to the Supernova music festival in Israel to reunite with friends. The event’s colossal size stunned us, as crowds of people converged in a symphony of excitement. The music thundered in what felt like a sonic experience. It was like nothing I ever experienced before. Then, at around 6:30 a.m., the sky erupted with missiles – a sight and sound that sends shivers down my spine.

Knowing our country’s military readiness, I ignored the fear and anxiety I felt, believing the situation would resolve quickly, but it did not. The festival came to an abrupt halt and our decision to linger a little longer at the venue gave us an advantage. While many panicked and fled only to meet a tragic fate, we remained behind for a few extra minutes.

Read more stories out of the Israeli-Palestinian War

The Supernova music festival became a living nightmare

It was around 7:00 a.m. when the terrifying reality truly unfolded. Gunfire echoed in our ears as gas choked the air. Terrorists emerged from every direction, their weapons indiscriminately claiming lives.

My friends and I scattered, and I found myself alone with Zohar and her boyfriend. When we realized the gravity of the situation, we became fueled by terror, sprinting as fast as we could. We spotted the fence surrounding the venue, leaped over it, and dashed another 100 meters.

In my peripheral vision, I saw a courageous man in a grey car, his identity unknown to me. He urgently gestured for us to join him, even though the car was already packed with about 10 people.

My friend and I did not hesitate, but there was not enough room for her boyfriend. She climbed onto my lap and tears welled in her eyes. “I love you,” he told her, “I’ll be fine. Just go!” She said goodbye and we sped off, not realizing it would be the last time we ever saw him. Five days later, they discovered his lifeless body, which was nearly unrecognizable.

Terrorists surrounded us: “I thought I would die”

The car raced on, and I could see Zohar was gripped by panic. I held her firmly and urged her to stay composed. We would fight for survival together. Just then, a vehicle filled with terrorists appeared in our path. The driver swiftly swerved in the opposite direction. Then, another van of terrorists closed in. We had them coming at us from both sides.

Surrounded and outnumbered, I conceded to myself, “I will not make it out alive,” but the driver stopped our car, and it gave us a second to run. We leaped out and sprinted for our lives. I zigzagged through the dense forest trees, my friend following my every step.

As we dashed through the area, we could hear the terrorists behind us. When we spotted a massive tree, we hit behind it. Thankfully, it shielded us; we were lucky. The terrorists passed as I locked eyes with my friend. Our silence felt like a heavy tension sitting in the air.

Zohar and Amit hiding in the forest for nine hours | Photo Courtesy Amit Ganish

As the footsteps faded, a sense of relief washed over us. We remained hidden for nine agonizing hours, hoping we would be safe and worrying about the well-being of our friends. Fatigue and restlessness gnawed at us; we couldn’t sleep, nor did we have food or water. Distant gunfire echoed, but we clung to each other for support. My friend cried silently, and I implored her to stay strong.

Silence became our lifeline: after nine hours a news outlet found us

In our hiding spot, I snapped a photo and shared it with friends and family, revealing our location. Our initial efforts to reach the police were futile. It was just my friend, me, and our instincts, relying on silence as our lifeline. We communicated through whispered words and sought strength through fervent prayers.

Around 5:00 p.m., we heard voices calling, “Is there anyone out here?” Despite our uncertainty, we trusted our instincts and took a chance, revealing ourselves to those who were calling. That’s when we encountered news staff and a local resident. An overwhelming joy flooded through me.

They found us and guided us out of the forest. By that point, I had no battery left on my phone. My family had not heard from me in hours. They only realized I was alive through the news live-streams.

While an Israeli news outlet live-streamed survivors Zohar and Amit, their family took photos of the television screen. | Photo Courtesy Amit Ganish

The scene that unfolded that day felt like total devastation. Everything lay in ruins. The trees were unrecognizable, scarred by fire and destroyed by weapons. They transported us to a nearby Kibbutz, where we waited for about two hours until my friend’s father arrived to take us to their home.

My life is a miracle; ultimately, I yearn for peace

Emotions flooded through us as we reunited with her father. The journey to their family home remained subdued, tears streaming down our faces, in awe that we survived. Their home’s location was closer to the site where the Supernova music festival was held, so I spent the night there and drove to my home near Tel Aviv the next morning.

When I arrived home and reunited with my family, all I could think was “wow.” I was alive – a privilege not granted to many. Words cannot adequately express the whirlwind of feelings that swept through me that day. It has been two weeks now. The first week was the hardest.

Being in the military, I am committed to doing my best to prevent such horrors from happening again. My boyfriend is on the front lines, and though I miss him, I hold onto the belief that everything will eventually be alright. Israel will move forward and ultimately; I yearn for peace. Sadly, that often feels elusive in a world where not everyone shares the same aspiration.

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