42 survivors of the Nova rave massacre sue defense establishment for negligence

NIS 200 million suit says party should not have been approved so close to border and should have been dispersed immediately, when military discovered threat of potential attack

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

In the first civil suit of its kind, a group of injured survivors of the Supernova rave massacre on Monday sued Israel’s security forces for damages over their alleged negligence leading up to the October 7 Hamas onslaught, claiming that the tragedy could have largely been averted.

The 42 plaintiffs filed the claim for NIS 200 million ($56 million) at the Tel Aviv District Court against the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police, and the Defense Ministry, alleging multiple instances in which they failed in their duties.

“A single phone call by IDF officials to the commander responsible for the party to disperse it immediately in view of the expected danger would have saved lives and prevented the physical and mental injuries of hundreds of partygoers, including the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit said. “The negligence and the gross oversight is beyond belief.”

Loss of earnings, pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of future earnings, and medical expenses were among the claims included in the lawsuit.

The festival, near Kibbutz Re’im, was among several locations where Hamas-led terrorists rampaged on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 people others to Gaza.

The plaintiffs noted that violent atrocities were carried out against revelers, some of whom were raped and murdered and burnt alive, while survivors hid underneath corpses and bomb shelters, in the massacre, which began at 6:30 a.m. and continued until around 12 p.m.

From ‘#Nova,’ the 52-minute documentary for Yes Studios about what took place at the Supernova desert rave on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

“Hamas murdered 364 partygoers, and kidnapped 40 to Gaza, some of whom were released, and some of whom are missing. Many were injured physically or mentally, including the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit read.

The claim cited reports following the massacre, which said senior officers in the Gaza Division expressed concerns over the party, and that the operations commander opposed it being held. It also noted that Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar held consultations the night before, and even sent a special operations team to the border the night before the onslaught.

“On the night between October 6 and October 7, at least two IDF assessments were held due to unusual incidents on the Gaza Strip border, one near midnight and another assessment close to 3 a.m., several hours before the Hamas attack,” the lawsuit read.

The plaintiffs expressed disbelief that despite the fear among security officials that a day of fighting could break out, including attempts to capture soldiers and civilians, no immediate order was given to disperse the event.

They said that the IDF was unable to provide adequate security for the event since many soldiers were at home over the Simchat Torah holiday. Only 27 police officers were stationed at the party, most of them not in possession of long arms, as required when based near the border, the claimants said.

Attorney Shimon Buchbut, a retired Air Force commander cited as an expert in the lawsuit, said that the IDF was negligent in giving approval for the party and that any reasonable official would not have allowed it to go ahead.

“The event was held a small distance from the Strip’s border. The noise from the party was heard by Gazan residents and revelers were an easy target for the terror attack,” he said in the claim.

The lawsuit also cited testimonies of plaintiffs who experienced the horrific scenes of the massacre.

Burnt cars are left behind at the site of the attack three days earlier by Palestinian terrorists on the Supernova desert music near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel, on October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

One of the plaintiffs described escaping from the scene to a shelter at the entrance of Kibbutz Re’im, where terrorists fired shots and threw grenades. The plaintiff covered himself with body parts while terrorists attempted to burn down the shelter.

Another plaintiff “escaped with his friend under massive fire. They were exposed to horrific scenes, including bodies lying on the road, and even had to run over them to escape. In the end, they arrived at a factory in Ofakim, where they hid for 12 hours under fire.”

Anat Ginzburg and Gilad Ginzburg, the plaintiff’s attorneys, said in a statement that “the disaster could have been very easily prevented.”

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