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Israelis Vow to Remember, Redeem after Hamas Atrocities at Nova Music Festival

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RE'IM, Southern Israel – On October 7th, 2023, nearly 3,000 music and dance-loving Israelis had flocked to Re'im in southern Israel near the Egyptian border for the Nova Music Festival. The event was two years old and had grown in popularity. What happened there shocked Israelis and millions of people worldwide, as Hamas attacked hundreds of festival-goers, killing, wounding and raping along the way.

Videos from that day show hundreds of young people running for their lives. Many had been taken hostage, while others died at the hands of the terrorists. 

Posted on the festival grounds today are photographs of all those who were murdered or kidnapped. Hamas murdered 375 people that day, which alone would have made it the second-largest terror attack in history.

Now the place has become a shrine of sorts, where soldiers and civilians come to remember and reflect. 

Elad, a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, told CBN News, "It's tough. It's a tough feeling. I'm also a member of the tribe and dance to music – the festivals. I have a lot of friends who were here. I lost a relative. I just saw his picture. You're walking here and you feel the atrocities."

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The site lies just a few miles from Gaza where the sound of Israeli artillery fills the air. 

Alana, an Israeli civilian, shared, “I feel horrible. I feel deep sorrow and distress when I see all those faces of young, innocent people. So beautiful, so young – that came here to the party of peace and love – and were murdered brutally.”

A new exhibition opened recently in Tel Aviv to recreate the festival grounds attacked on October 7th, and to honor its victims. Some of the bodies were so badly burned during the attacks that there's little left to identify.

For another IDF soldier, Doron, it's a reminder of why he's fighting just miles away.   

“As you can hear, it's still a war zone here," Doron told us."But this place was a – it was a massacre. It wasn't a military encampment. Nothing of the sort. It was just a massacre. People were slaughtered here and a lot of other things that I can't really say on camera, but horrible. Where we just went out for a little bit of air to get to get some air. We came here to remind ourselves of what we're doing and yeah, that's why we're here.”

Hundreds of burned cars littered the road next to the festival that day. One IDF officer named Brett fought just down the road while his son fled the event. 

“He ran away from the party with two other girls of his and they actually ran from here towards Kibbutz Patish or Moshav Patish, this was a journey of about two and a half hours,” Brett recalled.

They kept phoning each other. 

“I told him, I can't help you because I was on the main road about four or five kilometers down," Brett explained. "I was, I had a fight with some terrorists and I was stuck and he was stuck, and he wanted help. I couldn't help him. I told him, there's no police, there's no army. Figure it out, you're (a) big boy, 24 years old.”

His son did figure it out, and the three survived, although there is still much sadness.    

“He lost a lot of friends here," Brett said sadly. "A lot of girlfriends and boyfriends. Yeah, he lost the party and he's been going to all the funerals and memorials.”

The IDF officer who witnessed the massacre has a message for the world.

“Don't forget. Don't forget anything.  Because we tend to forget. Everyone has a small, short memory," Brett said. "And after a month or two months or a year, you come back here."You'll see the red poppies here and you'll forget. Don't forget. That's all like we were. We're not allowed to forget the Holocaust. We know not to forget what happened here.”

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