Interactive Israeli exhibition tells Oct 7 survivor stories

By Thomson Reuters May 13, 2024 | 9:53 AM

By Emily Rose

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Noam Ben David, 27-year-old survivor of the Nova Music Festival, hid in a garbage container for five hours on Oct. 7, after seeing Hamas gunmen kill her partner.

Seven months later, she has been released from hospital, but many of her wounds, she said, have not healed.

Leaning on the crutches she now needs, Ben David told her story as she visited an interactive exhibition “From Darkness to Light”, at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, which opened ahead of Monday’s Memorial Day, when Israel commemorates fallen soldiers and Israeli victims of attacks.

Ben David, whose experience is featured in the exhibits, said the exhibition’s name proved that those who were killed, though they are gone, “are still such bright sources of light”.

The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas gunmen on Israeli communities killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners and saw more than 250 people taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies, in the deadliest single day for Israelis in their history.

Israel’s retaliatory military operation in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry, and devastated the narrow coastal enclave that Hamas has controlled since 2007.

The exhibition producer Malki Shem Tov’s son Omer was abducted on Oct. 7 and has been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza for more than 200 days.

Between attending rallies and advocating for Omer’s release, Shem Tov produced the installation which features mobile shelters, mimicking the safe rooms where victims hid while their communities were under attack.

Visitors can use touchscreen pillars to hear the stories of 25 women survivors and first responders who witnessed the atrocities.

“For me Oct. 7 is part of my life,” Linor Attias, a first responder who was dispatched to the communities on the day of the attack told Reuters. Attias said the “barbarism” she witnessed that day “is something everyone needs to learn about and hear about”.

(Reporting by Emily Rose; Editing by Alison Williams)