Saturday, December 2, 2023

A music festival survivor fleeing attack and a deadly decision

The two militants were just ahead of him, spraying gunfire from their motorcycle at passing cars. One militant was driving, the 50-year-old man said, and the other sat behind, shooting at any target he saw. At least one wore body armor.

“He didn’t see me,” Michael Silberberg said. So Silberberg made a decision. He and two friends had already managed to escape the slaughter at the Tribe of Nova music festival, where hundreds of militants from the Palestinian group Hamas had swarmed through crowds, killing at least 260 people and taking an unknown number hostage.

They survived another attack a few minutes later, with two hiding in a roadside air-raid shelter while the other hid outside. Soon after that they were driving away in Silberberg’s car, trying to get far from the massacre, when they saw the motorcycle.

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“I knew it’s either I hit him or I know I die, or other people die, or somebody will die,” Silberberg said. So he stepped on the accelerator and slammed into the motorcycle with his four-door sedan. The shooter, he said, died immediately. The driver survived, but they left him crawling in the street badly injured. “They were neutralized,” Silberberg said. The men quickly drove away, with the vehicle’s front end badly dented, the car alarm blaring and smoke billowing from everywhere. They drove like that for 20 minutes until they reached a friend’s house and found safety.

Silberberg, an Israeli-born German, said he had long been politically liberal, hoping for a peace that gave Palestinians their own homeland. “You know: ‘All good. Let’s live all together. Let’s give them the land.’” But not anymore.

“My mind has changed. I’m sorry — I’m not sorry,” he said, sitting in his seafront Tel Aviv apartment where he and his two friends hunkered down after the attack. “You can’t make peace with these people,” he said. “They don’t want to coexist with us. They want to kill us.”



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