For weeks, Israeli electronic music fans eagerly awaited the Supernova trance festival, which was taking place in the Negev desert in southern Israel, approximately 5 km from the Gaza border. It just so happened that it coincided with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, so the anticipation and desire to party were at its highest: “The time has come when the whole family is about to get together again. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” the organizers wrote on the networks before the event.
Nobody imagined then the nightmare which was going to take place at the concert venue.
A few hours later, those optimistic posters on networks became a message board of people trying to find their missing loved ones, after Palestinian militants stormed the festival by surprise and opened fire on attendees. According to the Zaka rescue agency, they have recovered more than 260 corpses of the place.
Tribe of Nova (that’s what the festival is called), had three stages, a camping area and a bar and food area. It was near Kibbutz Re’imm, next to the Gaza Strip, from where Hamas fighters crossed at dawn to launch their attack, they infiltrated in small towns and took dozens of people hostage.
The question that many people are asking right now is the same: why would an event like this be held so few kilometers from the most conflictive border in the world. But the truth is that the choice of location was coincidental. According to the organizer, the festival was going to be held elsewhere but for organizational reasons they decided move it two days before the massacre.
In fact, attendee Adam Barel told Haaretz that everyone at the rave had some concern that it was the case that missiles were fired in the area, but that armed Palestinians arrived and shot them at point-blank range, no one expected it.
The first sign that something was wrong was when a siren sounded at dawn warning of missiles. A voice boomed from the speakers above the stages and the rest area: “Guys, we have a red alert,” he warned. Some witnesses saw several rockets and then heard gunshots. “They cut off the electricity and suddenly, out of nowhere, they came in, opening fire in all directions,” said one on Israel’s Channel 12.
At least 50 terrorists broke into the area in vans, dressed in military uniforms and then the images that we have seen repeatedly on social networks occurred: dozens of people trying to flee, running through the sand of the desert, getting into cars to escape or crawling on all fours to take cover as best they could from the gunshots.
Those attending this electronics rave had been asked not to bring anything that could cause any type of damage, of course (sharp objects, weapons, glass bottles). Not only were they tired and helplessbut they were trapped in an area in the middle of the desert, open countryside and offering little to no hiding place.
“Normal” in the Gaza Strip
As we said before, the attendees had not known the exact location of the festival until a few hours before before it started. “The event will take place in a powerful natural location full of trees, impressive in its beauty and organized for your convenience, approximately an hour and a quarter south of Tel Aviv,” those who had already purchased tickets were told.
In this region, an area of land of barely 360 square kilometers, live no less than two million people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Almost every day you can hear the noise of airplanes and, if not that, the sirens harmonize the atmosphere. The United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) defines the place as “uninhabitable.” Others describe life there as similar to being in an open-air prison, or even worse.
Not only are there high concentrations of poverty and extreme overcrowding, but the region is experiencing a state of continuous pseudo-war, with border controls everywhere and chained states of alarm. However, on the Israeli side, this type of permanent “alert” allows people to live their lives relatively calmly despite the missiles.
And the decision to move the festival had been made because life on both sides of the Gaza Strip border had begun to return to normal in May after an Egyptian-brokered truce ended several days of attacks. between Israel and Hamas, in which 34 Palestinians and an Israeli woman died.
In fact, Israel had reopened its commercial and merchandise border crossings, allowing the supply of fuel to the blocked area. Shops and public offices had also reopened their doors and people were walking again through the streets that had been deserted for weeks.
Both sides confirmed the ceasefire but gave different versions of the conditions, including whether Israel would stop attacking key Palestinian militants. A senior jihadist official who negotiated the truce said in a statement that the group was willing to stop missile launches in exchange for Israel agreeing to stop attack homes of civilians and militiamen. “We are committed to the calm agreement as long as the enemy complies with it,” he said.
However, Israel denied that it had committed to this and simply said that it would not fire as long as there was no threat. For the Israeli forces they had “successfully concluded five days of fighting against the terrorist group.” They did not mention the truce at any time.