Long Islander recounts harrowing escape from deadly attack on Israeli music festival

Natalie Sanandaji says security guards told everyone at the festival to go to their cars and leave. She says it soon became clear that something was very wrong.

Jon Dowding

Oct 17, 2023, 9:12 PM

Updated 189 days ago

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A Long Islander is safely back home after surviving Hamas's deadly attack on a music festival in Israel.
Natalie Sanandaji says that she was at the Supernova Trance Music Festival on Oct. 7 when she saw rockets firing in the distance.
She was reassured by those around her that rocket launches are a normal occurrence so close to the border with Gaza.
Then, the number of rockets started to increase.
"We started to realize this isn't normal. This is way more intense than what we thought it would be,” she said.
The situation quickly escalated when security cut the music, told everyone to go to their cars and leave.
While her friends went right back to the car, she stopped at the bathroom.
New video released a few days ago shows Hamas fighters targeting those hiding in the same bathroom after she left them.
"It was very intense for me to see as someone who was in those bathrooms moments before and understanding that I could have been in that bathroom at that time,” she said. “If I was there just a little bit later, I probably wouldn't be here today."
She went back to her friend's car, confused as to what was going on.
"We sat in our cars for a second and waited and tried to understand why they had asked us to get out of our cars,” said Sanandaji. “That's when we first heard the first gunshots. As soon as we heard the gunshots, we opened our doors and just started to run."
Little did they know but Hamas had surrounded the festival with fighters on foot, creating no clear and safe way out for attendees.
"There was no way to know what decision was going to save our lives and what decision was going to get us killed,” she said. “You see dozens of kids that ran in a different direction and now are running in your direction and realizing they're running from a terrorist. They're running from being shot at and that the direction you're running in is not safe."
She and a few of her friends ran for over four hours without water or food, not knowing exactly where to go. They stopped when they were far enough from the gunfire.
It wasn't until an Israeli man in a white pickup truck arrived that they finally saw a safe way out.
"I don't even know his name. I can't even thank him, but he took us and brought us to his town and as soon as he dropped us off, he went back and risked his life all over again," she said.
Sanandaji recognizes that she was one of the lucky ones to survive this unexpected attack.
Unfortunately, some of the people at the festival didn’t make it out.
"I came with three people to the festival, and we met up with a group of their friends, maybe 15 or 20 kids. A good number of them did not survive,” she said.
As Sanandaji continues to process what happened -- she says she feels history is repeating itself.
"Growing up, I couldn't comprehend how people stood by silently and watched the Nazis do this to the Jews,” she said. “Sadly enough, I'm starting to understand how people stood by silent because we're just seeing it all over again."
Sanandaji says she wanted to share her story to make sure people understand this conflict isn’t about Israel vs. Palestine. She says it’s about Hamas vs. the Jewish people.
EXTENDED INTERVIEW


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