Read in Catalan

A few hours after the start of the Hamas attack on October 7th in the south of Israel, I wrote that Israel was experiencing something similar to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the “Day of Atonement 2.0.” Days later, with the sand from that storm began to settle, we have understood the true dimensions of what had happened. It is the largest terrorist massacre in the history of Israel. The second largest terrorist attack in modern world history.

It is not quite the same as 9/11, because although in 2001 in the United States there were nearly 3,000 deaths in a country of 290 million people; in Israel, with 9.7 million people, the murder of more than 1,200 people (the number continues to increase) and the 3,000 injuries recorded mean that there is no-one in the country who does not know someone affected.

Nor is it a second version of the Yom Kippur War because in that conflict 2,500 Israeli soldiers died in the fight against the invading armies of Syria and Egypt, but that happened on the front lines. Saturday, October 7th, 2023 is the day on which the largest number of Jews died in 24 hours since the end of the Holocaust, 78 years ago. More than a thousand civilians and nearly two hundred soldiers.

Psychiatrists and psychologists say what happened will be burned into the minds of Israelis and the Jewish people for decades to come. Entire families, elderly people aged 85, and children as young as 3, were mutilated and burned alive while others were taken to Gaza to become human shields. According to the Washington Post, at least four young people, three girls and a boy, who were dancing at a huge music festival, were murdered on the way to their captivity in Gaza.

But what is impacting most heavily on Israeli society are the images of the Kfar Azza kibbutz, where a fifth of the resident population was exterminated. When the shooting began with a hundred Hamas terrorists in the streets of the kibbutz, the residents locked themselves in the shelter of their homes. The terrorists tried to break down the doors and thus murdered entire families in cold blood. There were cases in which they couldn't break into the shelters, so they burned homes with their inhabitants inside. In addition, the bodies of dozens of babies were found, some of them mutilated and others decapitated. After the liberation of the village by the Israeli army, an officer said that the Dantesque scene reminded him of the story of Babi Yar, the Nazi massacre perpetrated in Ukraine.

The terrible story of May Haiat

One of the most terrible stories, and, at the same time, one of the few with a happy ending, is that of May Haiat who was working on the bar at the music festival at Re'im, near the border with Gaza, where 3,000 young people were dancing all night and which was attacked by Hamas militia. May Haiat recounts her terrible experience:

“We watched an incredible sunrise. A friend and I strolled away from the party to have a coffee. Suddenly, a friend named Bar phoned me and told me that they were being shot at. We hid in a small police post and watched as the three officers who were there prepared to confront hundreds of terrorists, with clear expressions of fear. They told us: 'Run away' and they rushed outside. It was a suicide mission and they were shot down."

May continues her story in this way: "More people arrived at the place where we were hidden and I asked them if they knew the Holocaust stories in which during the massacres some Jews hid under corpses pretending they were dead. We covered ourselves with sand and lay on the floor in silence, until, suddenly, we heard footsteps. I prayed like never before, but eight terrorists found me. I closed my eyes because I thought they were going to shoot us. They picked us up and took my cell phone and everything I had in my pockets and said through their walkie-talkies that they had one more. One of the terrorists began to talk to me in Arabic, and I told him that I didn't understand him. I didn't shout, I remained still and passive. Some of them began to point at me and laugh, apparently, because according to them I was half naked. The Palestinian who had initially spoken to me put his jacket and hat over me and took my hand. In one hand he had a missile, and in the other my hand."

Horrific scene after the terrorist attack

The scene was horrific after the terrorist attack: "We started walking - explains May Haiat - and I saw that they were looking for cigarettes and drinks at the site of the party. I searched with them without putting up resistance. There were bodies everywhere. There was another Israeli with me who started to cry and I told him not to, that it was going to make them nervous. The young man knelt down and began to beg for his life. They executed him right there, in front of me. I was left alone with the terrorists. One of the terrorists who had a piece of wood in his hand hit me on the head, causing everyone to laugh. But the one who had held my hand at the beginning seemed like he had adopted me. When we got to one of the cars I thought about committing suicide by attacking them."

This is what happened next, as Haiat recalls: "The Palestinian who had killed the Israeli boy warned me that if I tried to do the same he would kill me too. Suddenly, the Palestinian who had given me the jacket and protected me said: 'Run, get away!' and I saw that they were not pointing the rifles at me. I ran like never before in my life, I reached the festvial site and I lay down next to three corpses. I painted my face with the blood of one of them and I lay down with my eyes closed. for three hours. Suddenly I heard [voices in] Hebrew and called 'Help!': they were Israeli soldiers. They took me to a paramedic to check me out. I saw images that I wouldn't want to remember. I was alive. But they murdered my soul. I hope I can heal it.”