Berliner Boersenzeitung - Israel festival attack survivors heal in Cyprus forest

AED 3.998043
AFN 76.035653
ALL 101.177683
AMD 438.48659
ANG 1.962597
AOA 905.775394
ARS 392.655948
AUD 1.632926
AWG 1.962331
AZN 1.855064
BAM 1.954403
BBD 2.198728
BDT 120.054191
BGN 1.954403
BHD 0.410407
BIF 3097.386133
BMD 1.088672
BND 1.455959
BOB 7.524622
BRL 5.359669
BSD 1.088922
BTN 90.682185
BWP 14.735468
BYN 3.587736
BYR 21337.968617
BZD 2.195031
CAD 1.469435
CDF 2906.754282
CHF 0.947219
CLF 0.034258
CLP 945.284355
CNY 7.698874
COP 4373.673902
CRC 576.288096
CUC 1.088672
CUP 28.849805
CVE 110.186244
CZK 24.281524
DJF 193.891415
DKK 7.45708
DOP 62.015674
DZD 146.865145
EGP 33.649249
ERN 16.330078
ETB 61.18187
FJD 2.417727
FKP 0.856704
GBP 0.857289
GEL 2.934014
GGP 0.856704
GHS 13.078652
GIP 0.856704
GMD 73.349311
GNF 9358.311117
GTQ 8.529903
GYD 227.82716
HKD 8.503947
HNL 26.871793
HRK 7.665959
HTG 144.126985
HUF 378.880006
IDR 16802.289446
ILS 4.046784
IMP 0.856704
INR 90.598021
IQD 1426.580347
IRR 46009.998988
ISK 151.140736
JEP 0.856704
JMD 168.299707
JOD 0.772308
JPY 159.84429
KES 165.851457
KGS 97.093749
KHR 4480.797335
KMF 492.570005
KPW 979.804681
KRW 1413.460833
KWD 0.336106
KYD 0.907451
KZT 502.590772
LAK 22546.884541
LBP 16367.201489
LKR 357.474494
LRD 204.834028
LSL 20.380353
LTL 3.214565
LVL 0.658527
LYD 5.226265
MAD 10.964563
MDL 19.329184
MGA 4949.462356
MKD 61.575988
MMK 2286.865455
MNT 3740.242466
MOP 8.764236
MRO 388.65567
MUR 48.298079
MVR 16.722412
MWK 1833.089793
MXN 18.710137
MYR 5.087406
MZN 68.858442
NAD 20.260594
NGN 858.962479
NIO 39.851516
NOK 11.695422
NPR 145.091296
NZD 1.75366
OMR 0.419181
PAB 1.089022
PEN 4.073888
PGK 4.060098
PHP 60.257448
PKR 306.687194
PLN 4.340897
PYG 8102.20892
QAR 3.963583
RON 4.954587
RSD 117.166255
RUB 99.314133
RWF 1353.532558
SAR 4.083939
SBD 9.227524
SCR 14.561028
SDG 654.292162
SEK 11.356791
SGD 1.451857
SHP 1.324642
SLE 24.750966
SLL 21501.269766
SOS 622.179962
SRD 41.168675
STD 22533.309653
SYP 14154.695272
SZL 20.319477
THB 37.96239
TJS 11.907889
TMT 3.821238
TND 3.389077
TOP 2.567201
TRY 31.462403
TTD 7.38772
TWD 34.030835
TZS 2727.85026
UAH 39.712216
UGX 4141.040178
USD 1.088672
UYU 42.579566
UZS 13394.42629
VEF 3868485.236161
VES 38.687206
VND 26443.839679
VUV 129.267066
WST 2.921028
XAF 655.488487
XAG 0.042719
XAU 0.000525
XCD 2.942191
XDR 0.818215
XOF 655.488487
XPF 119.591001
YER 272.549398
ZAR 20.313315
ZMK 9799.35713
ZMW 25.863514
ZWL 350.551897
  • RIO




  • NGG




  • CMSC




  • SCS




  • SCU




  • GSK




  • BCC




  • BCE




  • SLAC




  • RELX








  • BTI








  • AZN




  • BP




  • JRI




  • CMSD




  • VOD




Israel festival attack survivors heal in Cyprus forest
Israel festival attack survivors heal in Cyprus forest / Photo: David VUJANOVIC - AFP

Israel festival attack survivors heal in Cyprus forest

A group of young Israelis in Cyprus sang loudly, laughed and shouted in joy as a rainbow appeared -- but each of them was there because they had suffered overwhelming trauma.

Text size:

"We look happy, but inside we are... not," said Tamar, 23, a survivor of the October 7 Hamas attacks, pressing her fingertips to her heart as she struggled to find the right words.

Telling her story was too difficult, she said, "because other people, they can't understand".

Tamar, a marketing professional who asked not to be named in full, and the other Israelis were on the Mediterranean island as part of a programme to help them heal after the horrors they endured.

They are survivors of the Hamas attack on the Supernova music festival where militants killed more than 270 people, among the overall death toll of 1,200 reported by Israeli officials.

The festival-goers were brought to Cyprus by Yoni Kahana, 35, the owner of the Secret Forest resort in the mountains above Paphos, who set up the free treatment programme with the help of IsraAID, a major Israeli NGO.

"The biggest advantage is the silence," Tal Nehushtai, 29, told AFP. "Here, no one is talking about the war, it is pure healing at the highest level."

The tranquillity of the Cyprus mountains is in stark contrast to Gaza, just 400 kilometres (250 miles) away, where Israel's retaliation, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed more than 11,500 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas government.

While the war rages on in Gaza, the young Israelis have tried to put their own trauma behind them, even if only briefly.

They were aboard a bus, sharing moments of joy, and headed to a remote pier jutting into the sea on a rainy and windy autumn day.

Jumping off into the choppy waters would be a symbolic leap of faith and another small step on their path to recovery.

- 'We need it' -

Each group of 50 survivors stays at the resort for five days, and Kahana said that 1,400 had signed up so far, with around 200 having already passed through the programme.

Participants also have access to addiction treatment.

Therapists told AFP that many of the festival goers were under the influence of drugs during the attack, and some were now struggling with dependency on narcotics.

For many of the survivors, being among people who shared their experiences was a significant help.

On Monday night, the latest group had organised a trance music rave in the hotel basement, partying into the early hours of the morning, as they had on October 7.

"We love to dance... to feel this bliss, love, happiness, to celebrate life," said Lior Auvgang, 26, a tall and boisterous man with a bright ginger beard.

On the day of the attack, he said, "it all was cut in the middle. So we need it."

Auvgang believes he was among the first to realise the festival was under attack.

While taking a bathroom break, he saw huge numbers of rockets arcing through the morning sky, his drug-altered mind initially in awe at the display.

Auvgang, a former army combat medic, said he spent more than two hours helping to treat the wounded.

Then Hamas gunmen nearby forced him to flee into the woods to hide for seven hours, during which he sent his mother a goodbye message.

He said two of his friends were killed and another two abducted to Gaza.

- Panic attacks -

While a handful were willing, even determined, to talk, others were still too traumatised, wandering through the hotel clutching blankets around their shoulders.

Conversations and walks in the hotel were frequently interrupted by long, emotional hugs.

Nehushtai, a farmer and aspiring tattoo artist, was one of those most keen to speak.

He described a frantic scramble through the open terrain of southern Israel, evading Hamas roadblocks, being shot at, hiding in concrete tubes and eventually finding himself cowering in a small grove of orange trees for six hours.

The bone-dry leaf litter rustled at the slightest movement, he told AFP, and he and his friends were convinced they would soon be found and killed.

When Hamas militants stumbled upon their car and began to roam between the trees, he too believed death was imminent.

"We saw their legs, we saw their faces," he said, "if I move my head they hear us, so I only follow them with my eyes".

That the fighters didn't spot them, he said, "was the biggest miracle".

Despite their horrific experiences, many of the survivors simply returned to normal life afterwards.

Tamar told AFP she didn't leave her home, eat or sleep for a week afterwards, but then reported for duty in the air defence reserve, helping operate the Iron Dome missile defence system that protects Israel from Hamas rockets.

It helped her feel back in control, she said, after the helplessness of fleeing unarmed from Hamas.

She said she threw herself into rifle drills, but found the gunshots triggered panic attacks.

The Cyprus sessions are only the earliest part in a complex and prolonged healing process, several of the therapists involved told AFP, and the groups will receive more help back in Israel.

Yet Auvgang said some progress was there to see already.

"The first day was a little bit hard. I was feeling like a rock, like I was closed," he said. "Now we've got better... everyone is together."