Israeli exhibition reconstructs scene of festival attack
December 7, 2023 10:20 PM
With empty tents, an abandoned bar and even the original sound system, a new exhibition in Tel Aviv has recreated the scene of the October 7 Hamas attack on a desert music festival.
Relatives of the 364 Supernova festival-goers gunned down in southern Israel were invited for a preview ahead of the memorial exhibition's opening on Thursday.
Many broke down in tears as they surveyed the scene, put together by the festival organisers in a vast hall to look like it was frozen at the moment of the attack.
They walked slowly past the names and photos of those killed.
Nearby, organisers laid out unclaimed belongings from the festival, and relatives pored over shoes, hats, glasses and keyrings, hoping to find a memento of their loved ones.
Among the mourning parents was Amit Zender, 63, wearing a T-shirt with a photo of his daughter Noa and the dates "2000-2023".
"I've come to see what this festival looked like, where my daughter died," he said.
The exhibition is temporary, but Zender called for a permanent museum to mark the October 7 attacks, in which Hamas fighters killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities.
The two-day festival in the Negev desert, just beyond the Gaza border, drew more than 3,000 people on October 6 and 7.
At 6:29 am, warning sirens sounded. Armed men arrived in cars and on motorised paragliders, opening fire on the crowd.
They chased down festival-goers trying to escape or hiding in makeshift shelters in an attack that lasted hours. The gunmen took around 40 hostages back to the Gaza Strip.
After the attack, the site was left for several days with dozens of burnt-out vehicles and abandoned tents, sleeping bags and clothes strewn about.
In Tel Aviv, the exhibition organisers reconstructed a camp with upturned chairs under strings of fairy lights, as well as charred vehicles and portable toilets punctured by bullet holes.
- 'Most difficult day' -
Nitzan Schlesinger, 27, said the exhibition offered a way to "keep in touch with other families who have been through the same thing".
Relatives said seeing the exhibition was a powerful and difficult experience.
"My brother Idan Dor, 25, was murdered at this festival and it took eight days for us to be told he was dead," said Daniela Dor-Levin. "He loved to dance, he had just started his life. He wanted peace."
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who attended the inauguration, called the exhibition "a sacred space". He urged the families "never to forget the beauty and goodness of our loved ones".
On the way out, a sign read: "We will dance again".
"We will gather 3,000 people to dance again because we are a community, a tribe that continues to exist," said Omri Sassi, one of the Tribe of Nova festival group's founders.