Many Israeli Ravers Were Tripping When Hamas Attacked the Nova Festival

As the sun rose over Re'im in the Negev desert in Southern Israel on October 7, Nova Festival partiers were peaking. Techno music pulsed and dancers moved to the beats. Then rockets started raining down from the Gaza Strip just three miles away and the surprise attack was on.

"Some people were kidnapped into the Gaza Strip while they were on a trip," says Nir in a 22-minute film by Lucy Marley for TNM The Story of Nova Festival about the brazen early-morning raid on the festival.

At first, Eviatar says, "It looked like fireworks."

"We kept dancing," an unidentified woman adds.

But then the music stopped. "They told us to leave, the party had stopped," Eviatar says.

"Policemen told us to leave," the woman comments.

One of the festival's DJs, Roy, called the location a "shit place" and asks, "Who gave the permission to play there? We are outcasts – go to the side. Nobody wanted to make the event there. Of the four options they had, it was the best."

The Nova Fest moved several times before deciding on the final location near Southern Gaza.

The Nova Festival site near Re’im in the Negev desert

"A trance festival is as far as I can get from a terrorist attack because people are celebrating freedom and love," Nir says. He estimates, "Hundreds of people were under the influence of psychedelics."

"Like any other music events, people are coming and taking psychedelic drugs," Ra adds. "In a few minutes, [it went] from joy with your friends and suddenly to go 360 into nightmare."

Eviatar "took a half pill" of MDMA and "planned to take the other half a few hours later." 

The woman says she took LSD: "It was a quarter of a tab, which was a very smart decision... The acid helped me survive."

"Hundreds of people were under the influence of psychedelics."

Eviatar says it "started to kick in around sunrise. The sunrise was beautiful, the music was great.

"Sitting in the parking lot. we started to hear gunfires. A random girl showed up and said terrorists had invaded Israel and we should leave now. At this point we started to take it seriously. And got in our cars and tried to leave."

Marley explains: "We know Hamas came in. They gunned down people, they were chasing people... They took people hostage. They took them in the back of bikes and put them in cars and took them back to Gaza."

The festival site was just three miles from the Gaza Strip.

Eviatar says he "made an intense run, almost 20 kilometers" to get away from the shooters. 

With no support from the Israeli Defense Forces, "people were left to basically fend off for themselves. People who are alive today want to know why that happened," he adds.

"We felt deserted."

"The acid helped me survive."

All of the survivors spoke against embattled Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Says Nir: "I'm deeeply disappointed by how we managed to defend ourselves when we needed to."

A total of 364 festival attendees and staff were killed on October 7. Many others were taken as hostages to Gaza. Several of the interviewees - Eviatar, Roy, Nir, Ra and the woman – survived the Nova Festival.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.