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‘The Holocaust, all over again’: The massacre at the Israeli rave, in survivors’ words

TEL AVIV (JTA) — One of the earliest shocking atrocities to emerge from Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Saturday happened at the Tribe of Nova music festival, an all-night rave near Kibbutz Re’im on the Gaza border. 

Terrorists descended upon the festival on Saturday morning, spraying the thousands of revelers, most of them young adults, with gunfire as they escaped by car and fled through an open field. Photos and video show panicked crowds running for their lives, cars riddled with bullets and a road strewn with dead bodies. 

By the end of the massacre, 260 people were murdered — some, survivors say, after being raped. Others were captured by the attackers or wounded by the gunfire. Missiles rained down on the area throughout the attack.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked four survivors to share how they escaped. Here are their stories, in their own words:

The rave began on Friday night in a large outdoor space. At about 6 a.m., partygoers begin to hear sirens warning them of incoming rockets from Gaza. 

Yaelle Bonnet, 21: We went to Nova, we got there at something like 1 and didn’t stop dancing until 6:30 in the morning, when suddenly, sirens started. … The producers stopped the music pretty early and asked everyone to break up, go to their cars and go home. We found the car we came in, got in and started leaving. No one really understood the extent of the situation. 

Gad Liebersohn, 21: I got to the party at 4 at night. Around 6, 6:30 the sirens started, the music stopped. Missiles and rockets started coming from everywhere. We heard booms everywhere.

Yarin Amar, 22: The sights I have seen won’t leave my mind for a long time yet. Dancing at a party with friends, and out of nowhere rockets that won’t stop. You get a warning about terrorists driving out. Not a second has gone by, and those hundreds of terrorists are shooting at us from every direction. 

A view of the destruction on the grounds of the Israeli rave. (Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Initially, many of the partygoers attempt to escape by car, but a traffic jam quickly forms and they are unable to leave the area before the shooting begins. Drivers exit their cars and begin to flee on foot. 

Yaam Grimberg: I grabbed two good friends that were with me, and another friend. We escaped to the car, we started driving. We were blocked everywhere. They started shooting at us.

Yaelle: There was traffic and we understood why, when two cars ahead of us, they just came out of the pickup truck. I don’t remember exactly how they looked. It was a white pickup truck, they were also wearing white. They got out of the pickup truck with really big rifles, started to point and shoot everywhere.

Gad: At some point there was an announcement from the police, shouting into a megaphone that all the cars need to leave via the exit. I got in the car and started driving toward the exit, and that’s where the yelling had started: “Terrorists! Terrorists! They’re shooting at us!”

They started to shoot at the cars, at us. At that moment everyone parked their cars, left their cars there and just started fleeing.

Yarin: Cars are getting shot up. I left the car and ran, just ran, and on the way I see people murdered and falling to the ground in front of me. 

Video from the massacre shows a crowd of people running through an open field, in full view of the terrorists. Many get shot in the back and are killed or injured.

Yaelle: We kept going with the car until it got stuck in the field. We didn’t know if we should stay with the car or escape on foot. What do you do when you’re being shot at?

Gad: You see people being massacred like ducks falling next to you. One person falls next to you, gets hit by a bullet, then another person falls next to you, gets hit by a bullet. You hide under some car, the car starts driving. 

I was left out in the open so I ran to the forest to my left. I started to run into the forest and hide. Then they started to shoot everywhere. There were rockets at the same time.

Yarin: With helplessness and tears in my eyes I grabbed hold of a guy I didn’t know and said, “Please stay with me, I’m scared, don’t go.” With the shooting, we had to keep running. We ran to the field to escape to the kibbutz, and then we realized they were everywhere. 

A view of destroyed vehicles near the grounds of the Tribe of Nova music festival after Saturday’s deadly attack by Hamas (Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Some of the survivors escape the attackers by hiding alone or with others. Some go into bomb shelters and others hide in the area’s greenery as terrorists continue to advance on them. Two of the survivors told JTA that their calls to police went unanswered. 

Yaam: We were able to hide in a shelter. Within a few minutes, I understood that if we stayed there they would just come and slaughter us, so I took the friends and we sprinted back to the car as bullets flew over our heads.

Yaelle: We joined a pretty big group of some people who had all escaped in the same direction, to the fields. We kept going, and there was a police officer, he didn’t have any bullets left in his gun, he seemed pretty scared, just like us. He didn’t have reception on his radio. He didn’t have much of anything.

Gad: After two hours of hiding and trying to get rescued — call the police, nothing helps, army, nothing comes to us — for two hours I’m hiding and hearing people getting kidnapped and women getting raped, and without end you hear people dying, begging for their life, women begging for their life. And you can’t make a sound, because they’ll find you too, kidnap, kill you too.      

Yarin: We hid in the trees, trying to get help from the police with no answer. We heard shouting in Arabic, unending shooting, and then three terrorists were in front of us.

As terrorists continue to hunt for people to kill and capture, the people they are chasing have to escape again and again, running as fast as they can and finding new places to hide.

Gad: At some point, the terrorists found us hiding. We were about 20 people hiding in the same place. They found us, they killed some of us. I was able to get away. 

I kept running, running, running. There were four terrorists coming in my direction. I couldn’t move. I froze in place. A friend who was hiding came out of his hiding place and pulled my hand and took me with him to the hiding place. We hid in the hiding place for four hours.

I heard terrorists getting closer and closer to us, and we didn’t move. Then we heard them finally getting farther and farther away. When there was total quiet, we left the bush where we were hiding. As we left the bush we saw we had run too far and reached the fence with Gaza.

Yarin: We escaped, we just ran anywhere, knowing the terrorists were chasing after us and shooting at us. That’s when I saw my death with my own eyes. I knew that as I was running I could get hit by a bullet. It was the two of us, with the knowledge that I didn’t know what had happened to the others.

I tried to call people who could help, who would find me, and after call after call to the police with no answer I understood that my chances were slim. Hour after hour passed as we were sitting in the bushes, and the shooting was only growing louder, and unending explosives, rockets and grenades. 

A dead body on the grounds of the Tribe of Nova music festival after Saturday’s deadly attack by Hamas. (Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

After hours of running and hiding, the survivors were rescued because they made contact with the army or police or with Israelis passing by who were able to bring them to a secure town. Yaelle’s group connected with the police and was directed to safety. Gad hid in a tree with a friend. Yarin sent a series of panicked texts to a soldier in her phone contacts named Naveh, begging him to come rescue her and her companion, Netanel. 

Yaam: At some point, a team from the IDF arrived, so I took advantage of their fighting to take cover. We got into the car and started to drive crazy fast through the area. 

I kept the window open so I could hear where they were shooting at me, and try to drive in the opposite direction. They just shot at us from every direction, so you have no idea where to drive. After a couple hours I was able to take us to Kibbutz Tze’elim and there, thank God, we were safe.

Yaelle: In the end, they directed us to Moshav Patish, that was the closest and safest place. They directed everyone there. We walked I don’t know how much time.

We walked three to four hours, 20 kilometers, according to what I saw on the map. 

Gad: As we were hiding in the tree we heard yelling. Someone was screaming, “Hello! Hello!” We didn’t know if it was an Arab or Jew who had come to save us but at that point we had nothing to lose. We went out to see who it was, and it was a Jew who managed to extricate us. 

We got into his car and drove a bit in the car to find other people. We found three other people hiding in the forest and got them into the car, and he took us to a nearby farming community that was safe.

Yarin: I looked at Netanel, I said to him, “Don’t breathe now and don’t move.” We played dead for a few hours without moving, hoping some miracle would happen. I looked at the sky and it was just me and God. I prayed and said to Him, “Please God, I want to live, I’ll do anything, I’m still just a child.”

After a long time Naveh, the soldier, was able to find us as he promised me. 

The survivors imparted that the horrors they saw that day will stay with them. 

Yaelle: We didn’t have water, everyone was pretty quiet. It felt like a death caravan, like we’re experiencing the Holocaust all over again. That’s very hard to say, and I’m letting myself say it. 

We didn’t have water, we didn’t have anything, but I knew we were getting somewhere, so we kept going.

Only coming back, on the bus, did I see corpses on the ground from cars that had been shot.

Gad: When you drive on the road, you see bodies in every direction, without end — a lot of corpses, a lot of dead people. The army got there only after about nine hours, that’s it. By the time we got to the road we saw corpses everywhere of people who were at the party.

Yarin: I’m sad that I need to be scared in my country, and thankful for the life I got back. 

The post ‘The Holocaust, all over again’: The massacre at the Israeli rave, in survivors’ words appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Left-wing Jews usher in Hanukkah in NY with rally demanding a ceasefire and mourning Gaza casualties

(New York Jewish Week) – Hundreds marched around Columbus Circle in the biting cold on Thursday night, holding electric candles and signs calling for a ceasefire, as they sang a biblical verse calling for the end of war as a tuba and a drum played along.

The activists then raised a 9-foot tall menorah emblazoned with the word “ceasefire” in multi-colored lights, each letter adorning one of the nine candle stems, ushering in the Hanukkah holiday with pleas for a halt to the Israel-Hamas war.

“We light our Hanukkah candles in public, we put them in our windows and in our town square to proudly display our Jewish heritage and to call upon the miracles of this time of year,” Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari of the Philadelphia synagogue Kol Tzedek told the crowd. “We are each here to kindle the lights of Hanukkah and to call, together, for a ceasefire.”

The event on the first night of Hanukkah also took place exactly two months after Hamas began the war with an invasion of Israel that killed 1,200, largely civilians, and took more than 240 hostages. In the period since then, some of the groups organizing Thursday’s menorah lighting have led frequent rallies in New York City, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere calling for an immediate ceasefire — blocking entrances to buildings and bridges and sometimes ending in dozens of arrests. 

Their advocacy, so far, hasn’t met its goal. Israel rejects ceasefire calls because they would leave Hamas in power in Gaza, and Hamas has continued to rain rockets on Israel and hold more than 130 hostages. The United States has backed Israel’s military campaign. 

Left-wing activists rally in support of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on the first night of Hannukah in Columbus Circle, New York City, Dec. 7, 2023. (Luke Tress)

Israel recently began focusing its firepower on the Gaza city of Khan Younis, where Hamas’ leadership is believed to be based. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, more than 17,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting — a number that does not differentiate between civilians and combatants or denote deaths from misfired Palestinian rockets. 

And while only 37% of New Yorkers approve of Israel’s war effort, according to a recent poll, the Jewish ceasefire activists have the support of only a minority of their own community: 72% of Jewish New Yorkers support Israel’s war effort, while only 19% disapprove. 

​​”I think people are spiritually depleted and morally depleted and it’s really painful to open the news every day and see what’s happening on the ground in Gaza,” said Rabbi Alisa Wise, the lead organizer of the recently-founded Rabbis for Ceasefire. That group was one of the organizers of the event along with IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and a new group called Shoresh. Many of those groups have called for a ceasefire since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and have focused their criticism on Israel, accusing it of “genocide.” 

Wise said many on the Jewish left are “exhausted and depressed” by the war and find protest activities draining, but also feel the urge to make their voices heard. She added that there is also “this sense of determination, and now that we’ve seen what we’re capable of and what we can do it really feels like people are going to not stop pushing.”

At the entrance to the gathering, three towering banners bore the words “ceasefire,” “justice” and “peace” in Hebrew, English and Arabic, near tattered posters of Israeli hostages on lamp poles. Some in the crowd wore keffiyehs and several carried Palestinian flags. Alongside the Jewish public figures who attended the event — among them the commentator Peter Beinart and actor Wallace Shawn — one of the speakers was Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour. 

Organizers said 700 people attended the rally. In between the speeches, the crowd chanted the blessings upon lighting the menorah and sang songs calling for peace.

In Israel and elsewhere, supporters of the country’s war in Gaza have pointed to the story of Hanukkah — a small Jewish army defeating a foe that sought to destroy it — as a historical parallel to the current conflict. On Thursday, a rabbi in a suburb of New York City wrote on Facebook that taking the holiday as an opportunity to call for a ceasefire is “absolutely ridiculous, since Chanukah is literally a celebration of a military victory against an enemy that wanted to wipe out Judaism in Israel. Sound familiar?!”

Wise told the New York Jewish Week that the holiday presents an opportunity to fortify the Jewish left — and said that her group focuses on the way the rabbis of the Talmud approached the holiday. A passage in the Talmud describing Hanukkah includes only a passing reference to the military victory and instead stresses the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lighting a menorah for eight days. 

“We were thinking about the way the rabbis really deemphasized the militarism and emphasized the miracle,” Wise said. “Those rabbis were leading us away from the militarism. They brought the story of [the] miracle, and we’re thinking about that.”

Like Jews across the United States, Wise’s group has adapted the holiday’s messages and rituals to the current moment. The group issued a guide for the holiday with different kavanot, or intentions, for each night’s candle lighting, including focusing on themes such as courage, healing and peace, and has sought to lean into the holiday’s themes of miracles and spreading light.

Left-wing activists rally in support of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on the first night of Hannukah in Columbus Circle, New York City, Dec. 7, 2023. (Luke Tress)

“Every year we return to this holiday and we have the opportunity to figure out this year, what from the tradition do we need, what thread do we need to pull?” she said. “So that’s how we’re approaching it this year.”

The war has also sparked a surge in antisemitism in New York and elsewhere in the U.S., according to law enforcement and Jewish security groups, and rising hate crimes have heightened tensions and fears surrounding the conflict. Speakers at the rally decried the increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia, which has also increased, although to a much lesser extent.

“This is a holiday that’s about light in the darkness. Even in the darkest, coldest time of year we bring this light in,” Wise said. “As we light, we bring the possibility of the ceasefire movement growing and a possibility of peace and justice closer.”


The post Left-wing Jews usher in Hanukkah in NY with rally demanding a ceasefire and mourning Gaza casualties appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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‘She’s Dead!’ Brutal Antisemitic Assault Leaving Woman Unconscious Reported in London

Suspects allegedly involved in an antisemitic assault in London, on Dec 7, 2023. Source: Shomrim (Stamford Hill)

A Jewish woman was brutally assaulted in London this week by two suspects who pummeled her with punches and kicks for over a minute, according to footage posted on social media by Shomrim of Stamford Hill, a Jewish organization that reports on antisemitism.

The attack, which occurred on Thursday evening in the Stamford Hill neighborhood, left the woman unconscious and only ended after two female suspects reportedly said that the woman was “dead” after kicking her while she was on the ground for over thirty seconds, according to Shomrim, which also serves as a neighborhood watch group.

#HateCrime #Antisemitism #ViciousAssault

See dramatic footage of the horrendous #Racist vicious assault leaving the female victim unconscious!

The brutal attack ended after the two female offenders kept on kicking the unconscious victim in the head before laughing over her body…

— Shomrim (Stamford Hill) (@Shomrim) December 8, 2023

Metropolitan Police are currently searching for the female suspects. No arrests have been made.

Information on the condition of the victim was not immediately available.

The Stamford Hill section of London is no stranger to antisemitic incidents. In October, days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, two Jewish primary schools in the area were vandalized and doused with red paint.

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Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime

A man seen on CCTV vandalizing a menorah in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Source: X/Twitter

Multiple public menorahs in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York were stolen and vandalized, according to a spokesman for the Chabad Jewish movement.

The stolen menorah was seen on Sunset Park Center lawn on Wednesday evening, according to Yaacov Behrman, a spokesperson for Chabad. On Thursday, it was found broken.

In a separate incident captured on video, a man is seen riding up to a menorah in Sunset Park on a bicycle and pushing it over.

“The holiday hasn’t begun, and the vandalism has already started,” Behrman said on X/Twitter.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is investigating the incidents as hate crimes.

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