TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - As bodies continue to be recovered in Israel following the surprise attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,300 people, one survivor shares his harrowing story of escaping death at the musical festival where the massacre started.
The sun was rising at the Nova Music Festival as hundreds of people were dancing in the desert near the Gaza border.
Suddenly, the music stopped. Hundreds of rockets were fired by Hamas into Israel.
With limited protection in the open desert, Musaei and his friends tried to duck for cover, but quickly realized they had to flee.
They made their way to the parking lot and got into his car, but it wouldn't start.
"I was starting the car again, again, and again and then finally, it started because I didn’t have enough battery [in] my keys," he said.
That delayed minute or two may have saved their lives because Hamas blocked the main roads leaving the festival and instantly killed anyone attempting to drive away.
RE'IM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 13: Scattered make up and personal effects are still left scattered around the Supernova Music Festival site, where hundreds were killed and dozens taken by Hamas militants near the border with Gaza, on October 13, 2023 in Kibbutz Re'im, Israel. Israel has sealed off Gaza and launched sustained retaliatory air strikes, which have killed at least 1,400 people with more than 400,000 displaced, after a large-scale attack by Hamas. On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing over 1,300 people and wounding around 2,800. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been taken hostage by Hamas and moved into Gaza. The attack prompted a declaration of war by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the announcement of an emergency wartime government. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
"We saw a big, white GMC Savana all shattered, windows are blown," Musaei recalled. "We thought maybe a rocket hit the road [and] people managed to escape. Later on, a friend of mine told me he saw a body in that car."
He immediately rerouted them by driving on dirt roads to escape. His geography knowledge as an Israeli tour guide also helped.
His childhood friend Adir Tamam and Adir's wife Shiraz were on their way to the festival when the attack happened, so they never made it to the event. The couple’s car was later found near a kibbutz. Their bodies were recovered, but they leave behind two young children who are 7 and 10 years old.
"Adir was known as a giver, a great giver," Musaei remembers. "Shiraz was such a modest woman. She only cared about ‘Let’s have some fun, let’s enjoy those moments of life, let’s raise our children together.’"
Also in their vehicle was a third person, Celine Ben-David Nagar, who was also killed and leaves behind a baby and husband.
Knowing he escaped death, Musaei is now helping grieving families because he knows how lucky he was to get out and return to his wife and kids in Holon, a city south of Tel Aviv.
Following the massacre at the music festival, Musaei has created a GoFundMe page for the children of his childhood friend as they transition to a new life without parents.