All Israel

Bearing witness to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack at the Nova Music Festival at Kibbutz Re'im

Paushali Lass reflects on her powerful experience visiting sites of devastation and why advocating for Israel is so important

Paushali Lass visits the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre near Kibbutz Re'im (Photo: Paul Calvert)

Paushali Lass, an entrepreneur and coach for intercultural communications from Germany, visited the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre near Kibbutz Re'im in southern Israel earlier this month.

She witnessed the aftermath of the tragic events that took place in Israel on the eve of Simchat Torah last year – Friday night, Oct. 6. That evening, thousands of music fans gathered for a weekend music festival, dancing and singing and celebrating life. At sunrise the following morning, Shabbat, Oct. 7, the gathering was interrupted by rocket attacks and thousands of Hamas terrorists invading Israel by air, land and sea. Palestinian terrorists burst through the Gaza border fence, brutally killing 1,200 people total, including 370 from Nova festival, and abducting more than 250, 44 of whom were attending the event.

Lass, a speaker, writer, researcher and influencer, described the surreal feeling of standing where joy turned abruptly into horror while speaking with Christian journalist Paul Calvert of Bethlehem Voice.

"It's heartbreaking, actually," she told Calvert, noting the remnants of the catastrophe, including cigarette butts and shards of glass scattered around the site.

"...One moment you're partying and the next moment you're gone. It's just..a.surreal feeling to be standing here," Lass said.

Lass has dedicated her career to building bridges between different cultures and faiths, focusing particularly on Jewish-Christian relations. While touring the site of the musical festival, Lass took note of the various poles that were erected as a memorial, each one honoring a victim of the Hamas terror attack. She also saw memorial candles, flowers, small sculptures, handwritten notes, and many Israeli flags.

These tributes, she noted, highlight Israel's commitment to remembering those who were brutally murdered.

“Israel has certainly done a huge effort to make sure that these people are not forgotten," she said. The impact of the tribute was especially poignant as she acknowledged how young the music festival victims were.

"I just went and saw one picture and I thought, ’I'm not seeing it right because it just says 1998 to 2023,’ she said, noting the tragedy of "such a young person losing life."

Lass' journey to the Nova site was part of a broader initiative to bring global attention to the realities of the war on the ground, particularly near the Gaza border.

"For me, it's very important to show the truth to the world," she told Calvert. She is showing her support for Israel by bringing friends to witness firsthand the aftermath of the conflict and the resilience of the communities that were affected on Oct. 7.

“I've been doing Israel advocacy for quite some time, but I just feel no matter how much you tell people – people just either – they don't want to know the truth or whatever. And I think ...the best way is for people to come and see things – what happened, ” Lass explained.

Memorial at the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre near Kibbutz Re'im (Photo: Paul Calvert)

While in Israel, Lass visited the city of Sderot, which endured a significant amount of violence and destruction during the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. Already accustomed to frequent rocket fire due to its proximity to Gaza, Sderot faced an intense rocket barrage and suffered numerous casualties among its residents. The Sderot police station was overrun by Hamas terrorists, leading to intense firefights between the militants and Israeli security forces. The attack resulted in casualties among the police personnel, significant damage to the facility, and widespread panic. The city's infrastructure suffered severe damage, and many residents were forced to evacuate.

Lass encountered heart-wrenching scenes of destruction, including a parking lot where cars were burned beyond recognition.

"I can't even imagine ... the level of ... depravity is not even the word,” Lass said, labeling the Hamas atrocities “beyond evil.”

"How anybody can be so evil to do something like that? Kill, take out people, you know, families, young children in cars. It was just unbelievable,” she told Calvert.

What stood out just as much as the devastation, Lass said, was ”the resilience of the people.” She was impressed at how the people came together, acted like a family and helped each other, a powerful demonstration of how adversity can foster strength and unity.

Standing at a bomb shelter, Lass was moved by the bullet holes marking every surface. "Full of holes,” she said, “there was not a single place which was not marked with bullet holes from all sides.”

But inside the shelter, Lass described the heartwarming scene.

“..Israelis have put flowers and cards... in memory of the people” who were murdered. She said it was very different to be there in person, not just watching videos on location.

Lass said an Israeli sniper named Ariel accompanied her during part of the tour and described the scene on Oct. 7. “And he explained to us how he was kill the terrorists, but also to save his people. And within centimeters...I mean, the bullet just missed him,” she recalled.  

Lass provided insight into the complexities of the conflict, reflecting on the broader international perspective of Israel's war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, particularly from her home country of Germany.

While the German government remains staunchly pro-Israel, she explained, public opinion is mixed, with significant anti-Israel sentiment in some groups.

“[German government leaders] have a very strong stand about supporting Israel and Israel has every right to exist, of course,” Lass told Calvert, however, in Germany, there are rallies against Israel.

“I wouldn't even call it pro-Palestine rallies. I would call them really anti-Israel and Jew hate rallies,” she noted.

Referring to the “huge spectrum” of opinions in Germany, she said there are people “who really love Israel and who can see... even whether you have any faith or not... who can really distinguish the right from wrong. And people can see what happened on October 7th was clearly...the biggest injustice or like it was another Holocaust."

Lass has experienced the personal cost of her advocacy, losing friendships because of her support

“But sadly, there are many people who are completely against Israel. I've lost also many personal friendships actually due to my stand on Israel. Yes. Which I find very, very sad."

Lass told Calvert that antisemitism is rising at "tornado speed" in Germany. Despite this, she remains committed to her faith and support for Israel, driven by her belief in biblical prophecies about the Jewish people and their homeland. This faith inspires her prayers for peace and restoration for Israel.

”It's because of my faith. I believe in the Jewish Messiah ... Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. So, it's very important for me to be connected to the Jewish roots of my faith. And I believe in the biblical prophecies that God will restore the land of Israel. God will bring the Jewish people from the four corners of the world and bring back his people to the land of Israel.”

When asked about her perspective on the relationship between Jews and Christians today, Lass told Calvert she sees a positive trend.

"I think there is certainly an openness among...because they can see that there are so many Evangelical Christians who have come to Israel to support the people of Israel because of their faith.

Lass shared her prayers for peace and restoration for all affected by the war between Israel and Hamas terrorists. She offered a compassionate but realistic perspective on the complexities of the conflict.

“I'm just praying that God will restore things and all the ruined things will be restored. In what way? He knows. I certainly pray for the people in Gaza that God would do a miracle – that they would come out of the oppression, years of oppression and tyranny," she said.

She prayed for ”real peace” to return to the nation of Israel, noting: ”But first we need to get root out the evil. And there is no two ways of saying it, but Hamas and all the radical ideology needs to go. Until then, we cannot talk about peace, unfortunately.”

Click below to listen to the full interview.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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