Several survivors of rave massacre involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals

Israel’s already struggling mental health services overburdened by impact of Hamas onslaught, unable to say how many people will need long-term treatment

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov speaks at a Knesset Health Committee session about the impact on Israel's mental health services of Hamas's October 7 onslaught, November 13, 2023. (Knesset Spokesperson)
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov speaks at a Knesset Health Committee session about the impact on Israel's mental health services of Hamas's October 7 onslaught, November 13, 2023. (Knesset Spokesperson)

At least 10 survivors of the Supernova Festival massacre have been forcibly hospitalized in psychiatric institutions since October 7, when Hamas terrorists massacred some 260 partygoers at the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, which borders the Gaza Strip.

The national commissioner for involuntary hospitalization, Daniel Raz, who works within the Justice Ministry, told a special Knesset Health Committee session on Monday that “quite a few people” from the festival had been forcibly hospitalized.

The Health Committee session was called in order to examine the country’s mental health services in the wake of the October 7 onslaught, in which some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst through the border with Israel, killed at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took some 240 hostages.

Speaking to Channel 12 after the session, Raz placed the number at around ten people. “In some cases, there was no choice,” he said. “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.”

“The Health Ministry is doing holy work, but there is no doubt that more needs to be done,” he said.

Several civilian initiatives have already been set up to assist survivors of the festival massacre, where they witnessed widespread torture, sexual assault, and the murder of people as they begged for their lives.

Among the services being offered to the survivors are meditation with horses at Moshav Ofer in northern Israel and a five-day holistic therapy retreat in Cyprus.

During the Knesset Health Committee meeting, health professionals presented a report indicating that the country’s public mental health services were already overburdened, long before October 7.

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

“Even before the outbreak of war, the public mental health system was significantly deficient, which was visible through, among other things, repeated claims of a significantly lacking budget, a lack of personnel, long waiting times for psychotherapeutic or psychiatric treatment, and poor infrastructure in mental health hospitals,” the report stated.

The report also indicated that the Health Ministry cannot yet estimate how many people will require various forms of psychiatric treatment as a result of October 7 and the subsequent war, and added that “the question arises as to if and when they will be able to make this assessment.”

According to the report, Israel’s four main health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have been inundated with requests for assistance. All four have been offering their insurance holders three free therapy sessions, either over the phone or online.

Of the four HMOs, Clalit has received 1,260 requests for therapy to date, although there is no information as to how many of these requests were filled. As of November 9, Maccabi had received more than 450 requests and on November 12, Meuhedet reported more than 1,200 requests. The final HMO, Leumit, reported that as of November 6, it had fielded 2,926 requests for free therapy sessions.

“These programs are designed to provide a short, focused, and practical intervention including coping mechanisms that will help prevent the patient’s mental state from worsening,” the report said.

In addition, civilian mental health organizations across Israel have been on the ground providing care to survivors of the massacres in southern Israel in the form of hotlines and help centers.

The various hotlines all reported a significant uptick in calls since October 7, indicating the heavy impact of the onslaught and subsequent war in Gaza.

Data provided by NATAL, which provides assistance in the field of war and terror-related trauma, showed that in the last month, some 15,000 calls for assistance were received, a dramatic increase from the peacetime average of 1,200 calls a month.

In response to the report presented to the Health Committee, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov said, “There has already been a significant increase in the demand for mental health care and assistance, and we anticipate a further increase. Effective and quick treatment may reduce the need for prolonged assistance by 50%.”

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