A New York man has described how he texted his loved ones a final farewell from his hiding place in an empty concrete swimming pool, amid the worst civilian massacre in Israel’s history during the Tribe of Nova Trance music festival.
‘I probably won’t get out of here. I love you with all my heart,” Aviv Oz texted his girlfriend after Hamas terrorists stormed the festival site in the early hours of Saturday, October 7, reports CNN. Oz told the Internet that from his hiding place he could hear armed men laughing and joking around him.
Oz, 34, told CNN he was working at the festival as a visual artist when the horror began. The Tribe of Nova festival, held in the semi-forested fields outside Kibbutz Re’im, just a few kilometers from Gaza, was one of the first Hamas targets.
It is estimated that as many as 260 young people died at the concert, while many more were taken hostage by gunmen when dozens of terrorists blew through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence and entered the country, opening fire on the 3,500 people.
‘It looked like a scene from Call of Duty, of a battlefield. A real nightmare,” Oz said in his interview.
34-year-old Aviv Oz from New York compared the horror that unfolded during the Hamas music festival massacre to a scene from Call of Duty
At least 260 people were killed in the massacre, while many remain missing – likely dead or held hostage by the bloodthirsty militants. As rescuers continue to sift through the deadly wreckage of Sunday’s attack, the Mail tells how the terror unfolded
As soon as the gunfire erupted, Oz said he ran to his car, but found himself in a huge traffic jam as the crowd tried to flee. He described the panic as “complete chaos.”
Oz abandoned his car and took off on foot in an attempt to escape the attackers. He found refuge in an empty concrete swimming pool. Just before his phone died, Oz said he was able to send a few text messages to loved ones.
“As far as I understood it, I was dying and had to say goodbye.”
“When I decided to lie down and wait for my death, I could see the terrorists passing by,” he said.
Oz described a terrifying scene in which he hid while Hamas gunmen joked around above him, the smell of gunpowder lingering in the air.
In total, Oz said he stayed still in the pool for five hours. When the coast appeared clear, he managed to climb out and return to his car, which was torn up by bullets. He charged his phone and called for help.
‘The ground was full of innocent people. There was another person, an Israeli woman, who had been hiding in the bushes all this time. She joined me and we waited in panicked silence for the special forces to find us.”
Despite his ordeal, the Queens resident said he still plans to make Israel his full-time home.
Shani Louk, 30, struggled to reach her car as it was surrounded by armed terrorists. Her mother said she last spoke to her daughter after hearing rockets and alarms in southern Israel and called to see if she had reached a safe location. In the photo: tattoo artist Shani Louk at rave
Video footage shows Hamas members arriving on trucks and motorcycles as armed men rush into the crowds and shoot at people as they try to flee into the fields.
Israeli communities near the festival also came under attack, with Hamas gunmen kidnapping people – soldiers, civilians, the elderly and young children – and killing dozens of others.
The massacre stunned Israel, which had not seen such bloodshed in decades.
The Hamas attack killed more than 1,300 people in Israel, while subsequent Israeli airstrikes killed more than 1,530 people in Gaza. Israel says about 1,500 Hamas terrorists have been killed in Israel.
In the days after the attack, Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes as it prepared for a possible ground attack.
Israel has also cut off food, fuel and medicine to Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, prompting aid groups to warn of an impending humanitarian catastrophe. Israel says the siege will remain in place until the hostages are released.
On Thursday, a man who had been tending bar at the festival returned to the scene of the attack. He said he had no choice.
“I feel like I owe them, you know, all the people who were here and killed,” Peleg Horev told an Associated Press journalist who was allowed to visit the scene. ‘I’m alive, I stayed alive. I have to tell their story. Piece by piece.’
The bodies have been removed from the festival site, but the wreckage of the attack is everywhere.
Cars riddled with bullets, many with broken windows, are scattered across the festival grounds and nearby roads. Clothes are spilled from broken suitcases. A woman’s shirt lies in a tree where it was hung to dry. There are glasses on a windowsill. Ticket booths are bombarded with gunfire.
‘Lost and Found’ announces a festival poster hanging on a fence. “Campground,” says another.
Leaves blow in a gentle breeze as soldiers patrol the area, occasionally falling to the ground at the sound of gunfire in the distance. Security forces worry that terrorists could attack again, or that some could still be hiding in the fields and bushes.
Peleg escaped by walking deeper into Israel for hours. He avoided the roads, where many who tried to escape by car died when they were trapped behind other vehicles that had been attacked.
“All the while you hear gunshots and screams from far away,” he said. “We’re just going as far as we can, and as fast as we can.”
He is deeply shocked by the reality that he survived and so many others did not.
“I really owe them something.”