The Iron Lions

Testimonials from the war in israel, Oct 23'

Itai Peri

Nova Festival

The failure we have experienced and are still experiencing must be documented and shared. It all started around 6:40 a.m., a heavy rocket barrage accompanied by interceptions. Many people were in panic, unsure whether to evacuate, where, and how long it would last. While heavy rocket barrages and explosions echoed overhead, it took us a few minutes before moving our car towards the emergency routes that were opened. It was a crowd of about 3000 people at the event, so you can understand the confusion and traffic that occurred. We got to the car and were debating whether to leave immediately or wait for the traffic to calm down a bit because there was a bottleneck and a traffic jam at the exit of the area. We waited a bit and started moving while the firing of rockets from Gaza never stopped. As we approached the exit road from the area, the Waze app pointed left towards Be’eri, but that road was blocked, so we had to turn right towards the south. The traffic didn't move, the cars just stopped, we were sitting in the car, not sure what was going on.

I knew the traffic would clear in a moment and we would be able to  continue on our way. Suddenly, a military vehicle crossed the road and directed the vehicles to the side. Why? Still not clear. So we got out of the car to see what was going on. While walking, I recognized a vehicle that was pierced by bullets. We understood that the left side of the road was blocked because the vehicle was stuck and the dead people inside the car had to be evacuated. I started to realize that the situation was bad at this point, so I called my parents, letting them know that there was a shooting and that they would start shooting at me. I was not sure where we would go, but we decided to go south and we’ll keep them posted. Within two minutes, we hear shouting of people in Hebrew of "Run away, run away, they are shooting at us". Where should we run? What does it mean to run away? And a crowd starts running towards the east into the open space.

As people fled, they heard shots from the south, on the other side of the road axis, and they began shooting at us from all directions. We entered a trap and were surrounded from all sides. A confused crowd, which was dancing just a moment ago, finds itself in a mass flight. People were driving in the terrain wildly, losing parts along the way. People were screaming "take me, save me." Drivers trying to escape almost ran people over. As we descended into the unknown, we had no idea of what was happening and how it would all turn out. As we ran around this whole herd of people that was running away and shooting at us, I was with 3 other people.

Having run for a long time, I suggested to Ofek (my friend) that we move to safety, and we go to Be’eri. We began moving in a plantation area when we suddenly heard shots from close range! As we were in a tree plantation, we were unable to see beyond a few meters. At this point, I was hiding in the bush. I understood that Hamas terrorists were everywhere, not just behind us, but also in the area where everyone was running to. I don't know why, but I couldn't stay there. To me, it felt wrong. I told my friends who were with me that I was moving on, I couldn't stay put, and they didn't want to join me. They asked me to keep quiet so they wouldn't hear us, and I started running.... I will never forget this run. While running away from a grove of trees, I heard short-range gunfire around me. I was afraid that a terrorist would jump on me while I was running away and shoot me. After running for a while, I reached a crowd that was running and shouted at people to keep running. Without military assistance, without any ability to defend yourself, and without understanding what the hell is going on, you run to the right and there is shooting from the right; you run to the left and there is shooting from the left.

I met during my escape a person that I know who somehow managed to escape as well. He told me that he encountered a terrorist squad on a jeep that pierced their vehicles with their machine guns and he saw bodies on the ground as they fled. That was the moment I caught my head and was simply shocked and began to comprehend the magnitude of the event. I continued to run confused, I don't know where, but luckily I recognized a group of friends I know, and I joined them. It gave me a sense of security amidst all this chaos. While fleeing on foot, without military aid, without any weapon to defend ourselves, without water, in the blazing sun, we fail to imagine the magnitude of the disaster and ask where is the army? We heard that the terrorists stole military and police vehicles.

In the media, there were rumors that soldiers had been kidnapped, bases and kibbutzim had been captured, and terrorists had been roaming Israel in vehicles with weapons drawn. Without water, confused, we kept walking until we reached the barn where there was a water tap which allowed us to drink and gather strength so we could continue our escape under the bullets and rockets. Three policemen arrived as we debated whether to stay there or continue on foot, and it looked as if they had run away on their own. I don't know what they had gone through. With guns drawn and panting, they didn't know what to do. Just keep moving forward and run. In the end, after trying for hours and people getting dehydrated on the way while shooting and rocket barrages were ongoing, we managed to reach the settlement of Patish where an amazing family picked us up and hosted us, providing us with food and water. As I reached a safe place after a long journey, I told myself it's not over, you're still in it.

Due to the fact that I understood that a squad of terrorists could arrive at any moment. After being informed at every certain period of time about what was happening with me and where I was, my parents finally arrived at Kibbutz Beit Kama at this point and stayed with a family they knew. The same family gave my father their jeep and he was joined by another friend. Because the roads were blocked and civilians could not access the area, they used another jeep to rescue me from Patish. I still haven't processed everything we went through there, but I am slowly realizing I got out through a miracle. We could have ended up in an ambush by terrorists if we were the first to leave the party. If we waited in the parking lot for traffic to drop, the terrorists could have come to kill or kidnap us.