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Music festival survivor: ‘I said goodbye’

Michael Visontay
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Music festival survivor: ‘I said goodbye'

Published: 13 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

AMIT MUSAEI thought he was about to die but managed to escape from the Supernova music festival massacre. He recounts his harrowing ordeal to MICHAEL VISONTAY.

“We arrived at 1.30am on Saturday – four friends in their forties who drove down from Tel Aviv.

We set up our camp and organised some chairs. We had other friends who were supposed to arrive at sunrise, around 6.30am. In the meantime, I was taking a video of the amazing night sky.

As I was looking at the skies, I saw rockets flying. The security people told us to lie on the ground and cover our heads.

Some people panicked, others were the opposite, very relaxed. Remember, it was a psychedelic trance party. Many people took drugs and were not in their regular mindset. Unfortunately, that most likely contributed to their decision-making while they were being attacked.

We realised we were in an open space. We got up and asked the security guards; all of them told us to leave. All four of us made it back to the tent. We started to hear the booming sounds but I didn’t know where they were coming from.

People told us to go over by the wall and bend down. The first thing we heard was the sound of bullets hitting the wall.

We made it to the car. It wouldn’t turn on and my friends were taking videos of the rockets being intercepted above our heads. I was feeling very stressed. I could tell it was a heavy rocket attack and all I could think of was that I needed to be with my family, with my wife and daughters.

The festival was really just beginning. It was 6.50am, only 20 minutes after the attack started and I was already on my way out. We drove to the road that led into the festival space.

Amit Musaei
Amit Musaei

We never heard rifle shooting. As far as we knew, we were escaping rockets and missiles.

I put my foot down and drove north-east towards the sunrise. I took a turn and saw a GMC Savanna passenger van abandoned by the side of the road. All the windows were shattered. One of my friends in the car saw the body of a passenger next to the driver. I later found out it was a civilian vehicle, with camping gear and alcohol, which carried festivalgoers.

We kept driving until we reached a gas station which had a coffee shop. We stopped and ran away from the car. I kept the engine running. I left my phone in the car. People told us to go over by the wall, bend down and protect our heads. The first thing we heard was the sound of bullets hitting the wall.

At first we didn't know they were bullets but people told us there was a terrorist with a gun in the gas station area. There was one police officer. He looked very pale and I told him: "Please protect us", and he told me, "That's the only thing that I can do".

Another man, from a group of bicycle riders who were hiding there, had a gun and he tried to help the police officer.

I realised that the army was not there and the police were not there. We were on our own.

I told my friends: "Listen, if I'm not going to survive this, please tell my wife and family that I love them and they should be strong". I said goodbye already.

We went back to hide in the coffee space.

We didn’t see how many gunmen were shooting. We couldn’t tell.

Keep in mind that through all this time the rockets never stopped until we had been there for maybe 30 or 40 minutes. When the rockets stopped, other people started to receive videos on their phones and they saw footage of terrorists driving pickup trucks into the city of Sderot, which was nearby.

We even saw a parachute coming down. I realised that the army was not there and the police were not there. We were on our own.

After one and a half hours in the gas station, a group of soldiers arrived. One of them was injured. We saw a bullet wound in his leg. They told us that there were terrorists shooting tourists in the area.

More videos came in, and we started to realise what we had been saved from.

The soldiers told us that we needed to escape and take the road to Mefalsim, which is a kibbutz not far away and also close to a big army base.

After a short time I decided that I was able to take them there. I told my friends to get into the car and we drove as fast as we can. We stayed at the kibbutz for several hours. The kibbutzniks were worried for themselves and for the children. Many of them came to the main dining hall and gave us mattresses.

We started to hear more and more information about how terrorists shot the festivalgoers. More videos came in, and we started to realise what we had been saved from.

But at the same time we couldn’t communicate with our friends who were stuck somewhere. I was worried, I am still worried, that they've been either injured or killed or kidnapped."

These are their names:

Celine Ben David Nagar, mother to a six-month old baby

Adir and Shiraz Tamam, parents of two young daughters

Photo: People at the Nova festival flee Hamas rockets (X, formerly known as Twitter)

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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