‘We were like sitting ducks’: Nova music festival survivor recalls Hamas horror

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‘We were like sitting ducks’: Nova music festival survivor recalls Hamas horror

'When you see someone kill your friends in front of your eyes, and laughing as they do it and really enjoying it, you are definitely looking at the devil's eyes,' Nehoray Levy tells Jewish News

A body bag in the grounds of the Nova music festival after the 7 October massacre. Picture: Ilia Yefimovich/Getty via JTA
A body bag in the grounds of the Nova music festival after the 7 October massacre. Picture: Ilia Yefimovich/Getty via JTA

At 06:30 on October, 24-year-old Nehoray Levy was dancing and having the time of his life at the Nova music festival in Kibbutz Re’eim. Levy was looking forward to meet fellow Israelis he’d met while traveling the world just three weeks prior to the festival. 

“Everyone  was just laughing  and enjoying themselves. People were truly happy. You could see pure happiness in people’s faces and  people’s smiles,” Levy told Jewish News in an interview.

“Then as I took a rest from dancing, I just started to hear noises like bombing, explosions. I wasn’t sure what that was. As soon as I turned my  head up, I looked at the sky and I saw hundreds of missiles over our heads,” Levy said, describing how panic quickly spread at the party, as many of those attending came from the north and weren’t as used to rocket sirens as he was growing up in Ashkelon.

“I tried to reassure those not used to it, telling them everything was okay. It’s just another missile  attack. But after a few minutes we started to hear gun fire. We couldn’t have even begun to understand how big it was and how many terrorists would come our war. Many people were panicking and running all over the place. We were so disoriented because of the missiles and the gunfire so we thought maybe  the IDF and the army would jump in the  area and take  control,” he said.

What happened next was a nightmare unfolding in real time. Dozens of Hamas terrorists appeared on ATV’s trucks, motor bikes and on foot, all with one aim; to kill as many people as possible and to take hostages.

“They had so many grenades, RPGs, and heavy weapons. They just started  to shoot everywhere. We were like sitting ducks. There is nothing you can  do in this  situation. You feel so helpless, because  you are looking at death itself. When you see someone kill your friends in front of your eyes, and laughing as they do it and really enjoying it, you are definitely looking at the devil’s eyes and you are realising; that’s the end, this is it,” Levy said.

Levy described the Hamas terrorists as “vampires,” wanting more blood: “That truly made  them happy, slaughtering. They started to rape the girls over there and I just started to run. I saw them taking the girls and the boys. And I could  hear the screams. I know it’s hard  but you can understand when someone is just screaming for  their lives, or when they are being tortured or when a girl is getting raped – the screams.”

Like everyone else, Levy started to run, with no direction in mind, just away from the massacre.

“As I’m running, I’m looking from my left to my right. I see people falling  down around me as they are getting shot and it is so hard because people  are screaming for  help, people who you were dancing with and laughing with a few moments ago and  you can’t do anything. You just  hear their voices screaming for help. Screaming  for their life,” he said.

Hamas searched for people to kill everywhere, Levy said, in cars, in the  bushes, behind the bar, and behind every refrigerator.

“I served in the special unit in the IDF for three years and as an instructor for three years, and I know how the fighters look for stuff, and how a good soldier looks. There few of  the Hamas terrorists who were really trained. You  could see that as  they were  scanning the area and as they were  shooting. Their skills were  beyond someone who would just  grab a gun to  shoot people,” he said.

Realising that he stood no chance against the heavily armed terrorists, Levy ran towards a field of trees where he attempted to hide. But it didn’t take long before he could hear them closing in on him.

“That was the  moment I thought ‘I am not going to make it’. I recorded a goodbye video to basically say that goodbye, that I loved mum and dad and thanked them for everything. I recorded it and thought that if something will happen, my family will get my phone and watch what I recorded,” he said.

Levy said he was on the phone to his dad as the massacre was ongoing, but told him not to worry. Eventually, after hiding under a tree for some 15 minutes, he decided to run.

“Just pray and  run. That’s it. It’s like roulette if you  get shot you get shot. If you don’t get shot, it’s a  miracle. I took a video of myself running in case something happened to me, where you can even hear all the whistling of the bullets flying next to me. But as  a miracle or good luck, I  really have no  idea what to call it, none of them hit me

Levy then said he found between 15-20 people from the festival who had decided to run in the same direction. They ran together nonstop, 15 kilometre, dehydrated and drunk from the party. Suddenly an Israeli man in his jeep appeared, and took them with him.

The roads, he said, were full of bodies from the Hamas massacre. The group of people were finally to Patish, a Moshav in southern Israel, where another Israeli man hid them in a bomb shelter.

“Everyone started to throw up. After five  minutes we heard  people screaming  on the ground and from upstairs ‘terrorists, terrorists!’ Go out from the shelter everyone just evacuate from there because there are terrorists coming.’ We  were terrified. We thought that we were finally in a safe place. But no,” Levy said.

They ended up running for their lives again, until another man in a different house locked them in a safe room where they stayed until the army came at around 11:00 PM.

“I lost so many beautiful friends that day, peace loving people who never harmed anyone. The world must know what kind of monsters Hamas are,” he said.

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