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Hamas attack: Israeli combat soldier ran for 10 hours after attending the Supernova Music Festival

We changed course but everywhere we turned, weapons rang out. Fleeing Israelis shouted, “Hamas is in all directions. Some have gliders,” they yelled. “They are wearing police uniforms. Don’t stop and don’t trust anyone.” We became trapped in a circle of death that grew smaller and smaller by the minute.

  • 2 weeks ago
  • July 7, 2024
8 min read
Nadav Hanan, 27, was one of the attendees at the Supernova Music Festival on October 7, 2023, and survived the Hamas attack. | Photo courtesy Nadav Hanan Nadav Hanan, 27, was one of the attendees at the Supernova Music Festival on October 7, 2023, and survived the Hamas attack. | Photo courtesy Nadav Hanan
Nadav Hanan
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Nadav Hanan, 27 was one of the attendees at the Supernova Music Festival on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched the surprise attack on Israel. Nadav along with his friends, like many others, was under the radar of the terrorists who were killing people at the party spot. Nadav and his friends ran more than 15 miles barefoot to save their lives. During the escape, Nadav lost one of his friends who was shot by Hamas terrorists. Nadav continues to recover from the trauma in Tel Aviv, Israel. 
background information
On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza, the Southern border of Israel. With more than 5,000 rockets and missiles, Hamas’ surprise attack at 6 am on the Southern kibbutz of Israel saw more than 1,200 killed and about 215 civilians taken hostage. The attack was launched by Hamas on the day of Shabbat (Israeli holiday) at seven different Kibbutz and the Supernova Music Festival site. The music festival is one of the biggest overnight festivals in Israel which was organized after three years of break since the COVID-19 pandemic. About 350 attendees were killed. Foreign intelligence had warned the Israeli government of the planned attacks.

RE’IM, Israel – My hands shook as I walked through the wreckage of the Supernova Music Festival in Israel. A few hours before, it filled with laughter and great music. Then, suddenly, everything went silent and still. Dead bodies, blood, and people missing limbs covered the grounds. The clothes I wore were torn and dirty.

To this day, memories of my friends flash before my eyes. I will never forget the smell of smoke and blood that filled the air on the morning of October 7, 2023 when Hamas fighters attacked Israel. 

Read more stories from Israel at Orato World Media.

I saw thousands of rockets fly over me into Israel

On the day Hamas attacked Southern Israel, I stood near the smaller of the dance stages at the Supernova Music Festival. The party peaked around 6:00 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 1:00. At the site, facing the Gaza border, most of the attendees weren’t sober. We felt like life couldn’t get any better, but soon, the scene became a living nightmare for me and my friends.

When things turned bloody, people at the main stage had no clear view of Gaza, but we did. I saw the Iron Dome working to neutralize incoming rockets from the Gaza border. However, the dome appeared unable to keep up with the speed and number of rockets. They must be in the thousands, I thought. I later learned about 5,000 rockets targeted Israel that day.

Seeing the dome working, I imagined the party might end early. I also knew attacks like this were a regular occurrence in southern Israel, so we simply took shelter to let the rockets pass. Then, my phone rang. My girlfriend and mother called, pleading with me to return home as soon as possible. They heard repeated alarms on their phones about the attack. 

So, I made my way with my friends to where we parked our cars. The entire road out of the festival appeared to be blocked by traffic. At a T-junction, a policeman prevented people from turning left, but refused to say why. I felt confused, wondering if it was because of the rocket fire. It turned out, Hamas terrorists ambushed cars on the road around the festival site, forcing drivers to turn back.

Israeli flees for 15 miles barefoot, survives seven ambushes by Hamas in search of shelter

My friends and I debated turning right toward the south, but a car soon approached on the wrong side of the road. Two very frightened boys urged us not to. The said terrorists were on a killing spree. I found the events hard to believe. As a combat soldier who served in that area, I thought, if terrorists did come to southern Israel, they would last a half hour, maximum.

So, we moved in that direction. Soon, we saw cars burning. Terrorists fired weapons at anyone in sight. We abandoned our cars and started to run through a field in search of shelter. It quickly became clear; this horror would not be short lived. As the massacre continued and we ran through fields, an ambulance passed from the south. I saw a young woman inside, shot in the leg. A golf cart from the festival passed carrying a wounded man and the driver looked weak. I saw blood all over the cart as it drained from three bullet holes in the man’s leg.

The Nova music festival is one of the biggest overnight festivals in Israel which was organized after three years of cancellation due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. | Photo courtesy Nadav Hanan

I heard gunshots close by and sped up my pace. We saw a riverbed ahead where people were hiding. The Birkenstocks I wore made it hard to run so I took them off. Shielded on one side by trees, and a sandy bank on the other, the riverbed’s narrow point allowed two people to walk through, together. One of my friends looked back and saw at least four terrorists above us, atop the riverbed. He tried whispering, “I see them. I see them.” 

Friends encounter Hamas fighters at every turn

My friends and I quickly realized Hamas fighters stood below us as well, so we climbed over a several-meter-high bank. By this time, three thorns burned in my feet, but I had no time to stop and take them out. Either I saved my life, or I remained in danger to tend to my wounds. I chose to endure the pain and run. We reached an agricultural road and began moving towards the trees in the distance. Again, we heard shots firing in our direction.

We changed course but everywhere we turned, weapons rang out. Fleeing Israelis shouted, “Hamas is in all directions. Some have gliders.” I heard someone say, “They are wearing police uniforms. Don’t stop and don’t trust anyone.” We became trapped in a circle of death that grew smaller and smaller by the minute. When we reached a road with moving cars, I suggested we go back toward the festival site to get our vehicle, but quickly changed my mind. 

An exhausted couple walking along the road tried waving down cars. The young man begged people to take his girlfriend, but no one stopped. The desperate look in his eyes haunts me. The cars ignored us as well. As exhaustion took over, my friends and I struggled to take another step and one suggested we hide. With Hamas gunmen everywhere, I urged us to keep going. We needed to cover more miles.

I believe we walked about 14 miles when we came upon a large, ploughed field. The furrows slowed our progress but made it easy to hide. Before we had the opportunity to take cover, Hamas terrorists appeared on two motorbikes. They dismounted and began firing on a large group trying to cross the field. Bullets whistled by and hit the sand. In that moment, I experienced the physical sensation of bearing a giant target on my back that grew bigger and bigger. Though I heard screams, I thought, “If I look back, I’m dead.”

I called for help but even my own commander told me he could do nothing for me

Millions of thoughts raced through our heads, but we paid attention to nothing. We only wanted to survive. As I moved to save myself from the bullets flying by, my phone rang. My reserve commander asked me to join duty. “I need help,” I told him. My commander informed me no army could reach us so soon into battle; that an estimated 700 terrorists were in the small area we covered. He wished me luck and hung up.

A few miles ahead, beyond the field, we saw a solitary soldier with a walkie-talkie. He directed us towards some farm buildings nearby. Exhausted from running for three hours, the wounds covered my feet. We ran out of water but found some on the agricultural lands. Forgetting about our safety for a moment, we swallowed the water and put more in our bottles.

Pausing for a few minutes, we decided to hide in the barn or the muck rack of the cowshed. The moment we began moving in that direction, a woman ran toward us screaming. “Run, don’t stop,” she shouted, “Something big is coming.” We heard a loud boom echo across the fields behind us. Right then, an Israeli helicopter engaged with Hamas fighters on the ground.

Next, we moved toward a community called Patish. There, we made two phone calls to the police station. The officer told me that they too were battling Hamas fighters, and I should not call back. I kept the information from my friends, unwilling to destroy their hope. Hearing my commander then the policeman unable to help, I nearly cried. “Who do we go to if not the security personnel,” I thought. We were on our own. I decided to go to Patish anyway, in the hopes they dealt with Hamas before our arrival.

The ordeal has ended, but Israeli man remains haunted by the attack

My friends and I finally made it to a road where we found farm pickup trucks with trailers attached. We got into one of them. Around 40 of us on climbed on top of each other like animals. The pickup trucks delivered us to safety. After running for almost 10 hours by the time it was over, I experienced a sense of relief. I felt safe.

Many months has passed, but the ordeal is far from over for me. I experience intense flashbacks and noises. The thrumming of fingers on a table sounds like gunfire. When I stop in traffic, I unconsciously start counting cars and wondering why they stopped. “Is it an attack,” I wonder, and I become stuck in the battle all over again.

My therapy began two days after October 7, 2023, and it helps. The Supernova Music Festival survivors attend retreats at a hotel in Cyprus. We survived an ordeal that took the lives of as many as 360 young Israelis. While I feel at peace now, I still cannot figure out why someone would want to kill so many people. My grandparents came from Arab countries. I have Arab friends. We eat the same food and use the same curses. There is no excuse for this massacre. They had the choice to say no but they didn’t choose to do that. 

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