Key IDF officer reportedly voiced concern about Nova festival, but was told to OK it

Gaza Division operations officer saw party as ‘needless security risk’ due to proximity to Gaza, report says; opposition was based on threat of rocket fire, not incursion

Israeli troops inspect the ravaged site of the attack on the Supernova desert music festival by Palestinian terrorists near Kibbutz Reim in the Negev desert, October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israeli troops inspect the ravaged site of the attack on the Supernova desert music festival by Palestinian terrorists near Kibbutz Reim in the Negev desert, October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

A key Israel Defense Forces officer raised concerns and opposition to approving the Supernova music festival, which he saw as a “needless security risk,” but was told to authorize it, according to a new report.

Some 360 people were killed by Hamas terrorists at the rave on October 7, and dozens more were assaulted and taken hostage. Some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea that day, killing around 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Haaretz reported Monday that the Gaza Division’s operations officer, Lt. Col. Sahar Fogel, was unhappy about the event being held so close to the Strip, and his concerns were supported by other officers. The worries reportedly did not stem from fears of a terrorist incursion, but rather the threat of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.

There have been multiple reports that warnings from surveillance and intelligence sources of a potential attack were ignored ahead of October 7. The report said it was unclear if Fogel knew of the other warnings.

Despite his objections, Fogel was told to approve the Nova festival, the report said, detailing concerns of legal difficulties if the festival were not approved, as well as a request to combine the authorization with that of another festival, held at the same venue on October 5-6.

The report said that a special alert area was established in the Iron Dome system, known as a “polygon,” to give extra protection to the festival venue. However, it said, security forces were aware that safe spaces could not be provided for the thousands of partygoers.

The Eshkol Regional Council also opposed the rave, believing that it would be a public nuisance.

FILE – An armed Hamas terrorist walking around the Supernova music festival, near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel on October 7, where terrorists from Gaza massacred hundreds of people. (South First Responders / AFP)

Responding to the report, the IDF said that the army would “conduct a detailed and in-depth investigation into the matter once the operational situation allows, and will make its findings public.”

Last week, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman leveled harsh criticism over the breakdown of Israel’s defenses on October 7, promising that “the massive failure” of that day would eventually reviewed by his office.

“On October 7, the borders of the State of Israel were breached, and cursed Hamas terrorists did whatever they liked in towns of this country. Thousands of Israeli citizens were slaughtered, raped and kidnapped, and were left to their fate on Simchat Torah,” Englman told the Knesset Finance Committee, pointing to a report his office released the previous day about the government’s failure to address civilians needs on the home front.

Englman said his review of the functioning of the security services surrounding the events of October 7 would begin when developments in the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza allow it, stating that it would be impossible to conduct this probe while the IDF is carrying out intense military operations.

Earlier in December, relatives of those murdered by Hamas terrorists at two raves on October 7 — the Supernova festival and the smaller, nearby Psyduck festival — announced that they had formed a lobby to address their grievances with the government.

FILE – Erez Zarfati, whose daughter Ron Zarfati was murdered at the Nova music festival, speaks in Tel Aviv on December 11, 2023, at a launch event for a group bringing together families of partygoers killed or kidnapped on October 7. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Representatives of some 200 families that lost loved ones at the parties met at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, launching a joint effort to advocate for recognition of their unique plight amid alleged governmental negligence.

The forum calls for the immediate establishment of an independent committee of inquiry to investigate negligence leading up to the massacre, claiming security forces failed to consider all potential dangers when allowing the raves to take place a mere five kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report. 

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