Good Health and Well-Being

SDG 3 - Renewal of Body and Spirit

Like all the survivors of the October 7 Hamas massacre, those who lived through the Nova music festival can be expected to experience a very gradual and even painful recovery. Wounds to their physical and mental wellbeing are still raw; even thankfulness for just being alive might not necessarily come easy.

Of the estimated four thousand partygoers who attended the festival, about 350 were slaughtered (half of the total number of civilians who terrorists butchered that day).  Approximately 40 hostages were also kidnapped from the site to Gaza, where they remain.

The number of participants who escaped alive but suffered bodily harm (including bullets and shrapnel that remain in their bodies) is unknown. Personal stories, however, are emerging – like the account of a couple that got engaged just before the festival. They went to the festival to celebrate life, were forced to hide in a portable shelter with many frightened others, heard gunshots and screams of “grenade” and lost consciousness. When they awoke, they realized that they’d both lost their right leg.

These are not the kind of experiences such survivors will recover from any time soon.

It’s not any easier for those who appear whole on the outside but are wounded on the inside. While no comprehensive data has been published regarding the number of Nova survivors who’ve since received mental health assistance, it has been revealed that at least 10 have been forcibly hospitalized in psychiatric institutions since October 7. As explained by the relevant authority:

“The festival attendees were in very difficult mental states. The survivors went into a turbulent mental state in light of the difficult experiences they went through and dealing with the unbearable loss.”

SDG 3 - Renewal of Body and Spirit - Social Impact Israel

There’s no need for statistics to understand the depth of Israel’s national mental health crisis since the Hamas massacre. Nova festival survivors are of course among those receiving focused attention, including in isolated venues specially designated for them in Israel as well as abroad.

The psychological pain they’re suffering is also coming out in music – including from eye witnesses. One example is the song “Dance” by Osher Cohen, describing a woman running for her life: “Your disturbed soul will be your future place of shelter / don’t stop, you’re a fighter / and if you got tired, you’re certainly dancing up there.”

Another example is “Noam’s Song 2” by Maor Ashkenazi and Noam Cohen, graphically re-enacting the Nova horrors: “I hear the explosion / I’m covered with blood / I got off easy / most of my body made it / but my head is still there.”

Dance Forever” by established artists Omer Adam and Infected Mushroom (both of whom were not at Nova) commemorates festival victims with trance-like beats (and an eerie graphics clip): “Now all I have left is silence / I have no one / my heart screams / you will dance forever / in silence.”

As if all this suffering isn’t enough, the Nova massacre has also made Israel’s “dance community” painfully aware that counterparts abroad have turned their backs. Sadly, its international outreach campaign failed to elicit (Hebrew) hoped-for expressions of solidarity. Undaunted, organizers declared at a memorial event for those murdered that the festival will rise again.

Everyone affected by the Nova massacre – whether there or not – will have no choice but to muster the resilience necessary to go on. For the survivors, we can only hope that they have recovered enough to feel thankful for living to see another day.

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