Israeli October 7 Survivor Shares Miracle Stories

By: Adam Gabeli, ICEJ-Canada Deputy Director

Many Christians have heard elderly Holocaust Survivors tell their stories of suffering and loss and also how they worry that people will forget or deny what happened to them. But at a recent ICEJ event, an October 7 survivor of the Hamas massacres shared his harrowing story of running from terrorists and then being rescued by an Arab man, all as part of an effort to counter those who are cruelly denying that the massacres ever took place.


At the Sunday service, ICEJ Canada partnered with Pastor Giulio Gabeli of Westwood Community Church near Vancouver, British Columbia, to host 25-year-old Shalev Biton, a survivor of the Hamas atrocities at the Nova Music Festival near Gaza. Over 360 people were murdered at this site and at least 40 were taken hostage into Gaza.

Shalev shared his moving and even miraculous story of how his life was spared several times that day, including with the help and kindness of an Israeli Arab man.

Born in the Galilee, Shalev has always loved music. He wound up in Tel Aviv singing, playing guitar, and studying music production and sound design. After completing his army service, he traveled abroad for a year and was just returning to Israel in late September. Wanting to hold a “reunion” with some friends he had not seen for several years, he decided to meet them at the Nova Music Festival, which was held just three miles from the Gaza border near Kibbutz Be’eri.

Shalev told the church audience he was drawn to these music festivals each year because the people who come there are always so friendly and kind. So, he and several friends arrived at the festival site around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 7.

Some in the group immediately joined the dancing, while Shalev decided to get some sleep in their tent. But he woke up around 6:00 a.m. when he heard some booms in the distance separate from the beat of the music. Then at 6:30 a.m., hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza began flying overhead, so the group started packing up. Around them was total chaos. Some were crying, others were calling their parents, and even the police looked confused. Many began running to their cars.

Just before 7:00 a.m. Shalev heard gunshots getting nearer. His mother called, and he told her not to worry, that they were heading home to Tel Aviv. But the gunshots increased and drew closer. People were hiding between their cars. Shalev and his friends, Ayal and Ne’em, started running east into some fields and were able to run past everyone.

After running for miles, they eventually grew tired. Shalev spoke by phone to his brother, who advised him to dig a hole and stay hidden there. But then they saw gunmen on motorcycles, and ran some more, following a dry stream bed. Several other festival stragglers joined them along the way.


After running for almost five miles, the group found a greenhouse and hid inside. From there, they noticed a nearby farm with hammering noises and Thai music coming from it. So they snuck into the farm and found 12 Thai workers. They also came upon an Arab man speaking Hebrew who said he was the manager of the farm. Shalev suspected he might be an Arab worker from Gaza. But he took the group into a building on the farm, gave them water and food, and turned on the air conditioner for them. So, they finally started feeling safe for a moment.

Yet about two hours later, a group of Hamas terrorists suddenly appeared at the farm’s locked gate. The group of Israelis hid in the low crawl space underneath a building. The terrorists came into the farm and spoke to Eunice, the Arab manager. They said they had seen some Jews without shirts and started searching around. Shalev remembers seeing their legs right beside his hiding spot. But the terrorists eventually gave up the search and left.

“It was a miracle that they did not kill us and the Thai workers, and even the Arab man, because in other places, they killed everyone,” Shalev told the Christian gathering. “It took a while before we could talk again and decide what to do next.”

As they crawled out from under the building, the Arab man was on the phone trying to find someone to come rescue them. Some Israeli civilians from a nearby village soon came and drove them away. Shalev hugged and thanked Eunice and jumped into the car, while Eunice stayed behind to look after the Thai workers.

The October 7 survivor left the audience with three important messages, saying:

“First, we have to be strong and united against the hate and terror, all of us around the world.”

“Second, thank you so much for all the Evangelicals are doing to help us in Israel, not only for the donations but also the friendship.”

“Lastly, everyone should live their life to the fullest, because we don’t know what could happen in the next minute. Live your dreams, and love those around you.”

There was not a dry eye among the more than 300 Christians listening to this October 7 survivor and his heartwrenching story.

Following Shalev, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver representative noted that this church was the only non-Jewish community to open its doors to hear Shalev. Shalev also came with Dana Avissar Kraskin of the newly-formed organization “Facts of October Seventh,” who profusely thanked everyone for standing with Israel. The group is stressing how important it is that we all now learn about what happened on October 7 to combat the deniers who have already arisen, just as we must confront those who deny the Holocaust.

Help the victims of October 7 recover, rebuild, and ready themselves for future attacks.