Forty-two Israelis who attended the Nova music festival near the Gaza border that was attacked on October 7 have sued the Israeli security establishment for failing to protect the event.
The lawsuit filed a claim for $56 million against Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, the Israeli Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry, and the Israeli Police and says the agencies’ “negligence and the gross oversight” allowed the Hamas attack on the festival to happen.
“A single phone call by IDF officials to the commander responsible for the party to disperse it immediately in view of the expected danger would have saved lives and prevented the physical and mental injuries of hundreds of partygoers, including the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit reads.
Haaretz has reported that top Israeli military officials held consultations the night before October 7 to discuss warnings it received about a possible Hamas attack. But nobody in the Israeli military notified the Nova festival organizers of the threat even though the event was supposed to be under IDF protection.
“On the night between October 6 and October 7, at least two IDF assessments were held due to unusual incidents on the Gaza Strip border, one near midnight and another assessment close to 3 am, several hours before the Hamas attack,” the lawsuit reads.
The festival’s production team has said they could have evacuated the party even if they received a warning just one hour before the attack. Once attackers descended on the festival, the partygoers were told they were on their own. Organizers contacted the Israeli military around 7 am the morning of the attack, and Israeli forces didn’t get to the scene until 3 pm.
Once the Israeli military did show up, they started firing indiscriminately at Palestinian militants and Israeli civilians. An Israeli police investigation found that an IDF helicopter that arrived at the scene fired on Hamas fighters and also hit some festival participants.
Thousands of people attended the festival, and the lawsuit says a total of 364 partygoers were killed during the Hamas attack, and 40 were taken captive in Gaza. Israeli officials have said they don’t think Hamas knew about the festival and attacked it spontaneously when they came across the event on the morning of October 7.
Initially, a festival was scheduled to take place at the location on October 5 and 6 and was only approved to be extended into Saturday, October 7, earlier that week. Another report from Haaretz revealed that Gaza Division’s operations officer, Lt. Col. Sahar Fogel, opposed the extension, arguing it was a needless security risk, but was told by his superiors to approve it.