Awad Darawshe, 23, a paramedic working for Yossi Ambulances, was from the Arab village Iksal near Nazareth. He was on duty at the Supernova Festival in Re’im when the rockets began to fly overhead. Minutes later, terrorists started charging from across the Gazan border, guns blazing, killing 260 people in the ensuing massacre.
Six of his colleagues fled, but Darawshe refused to leave, hoping he could mediate to save lives because he spoke Arabic. He was shot and killed as he was bandaging one of the many injured civilians. The terrorists stole his ambulance and drove it to Gaza.
On October 13, he received a hero’s funeral attended by twenty thousand mourners, both Jews and Muslims. Imams from three villages praised his bravery.
Mohammad Darawshe, his cousin, told reporters, “He brought us a lot of sorrow, but he also brought us a lot of pride because he chose to stay with his mission until the last moment.” Speaking for the family, he continued: “We are very proud of his actions. This is what we would expect from him and what we expect from everyone in our family–to be human, to stay human and to die human” (Associated Press, October 15, 2023).
Nusseir Yassin, 31, a viral blogger with 11.8 million followers. He has produced 2,500 daily and weekly videos in 10 languages under the rubric Nas Daily. Born in the village of Arraba (Ar’ara) in the lower Galilee, he earned a degree in economics and computer science from Harvard University, then gave up a high-tech career, ultimately pursuing his traveling passion in 2016. Along the way, he began creating videos of his travels worldwide.
He calls himself “A Palestinian kid born inside Israel” (Ynetnews.com, October 9, 2023). “Many of my friends refuse to this day to say the word ‘Israel’ and call themselves ‘Palestinian’ only. But since I was 12, that did not make sense to me. So I decided to mix the two and become a ‘Palestinian-Israeli.’ I thought this term reflected who I was. Palestinian first. Israeli second.”
Now that has changed. “And then my thoughts turned to anger. I realized that if Israel were to be ‘invaded’ like that again, we would not be safe [either]. To a terrorist invading Israel, all citizens are targets. Some 900 Israelis died so far. More than 40 of them are Arabs. Killed by other Arabs.” As the number of murders rose, Yassin became resolute: “I do not want to live under a Palestinian government. Which means I only have one home, even if I’m not Jewish: Israel. That’s where all my family lives. That’s where I grew up. That’s the country I want to see continue to exist so I can exist.”
Though he favors a Palestinian state, he concluded: “So from today forward, I view myself as an ‘Israeli-Palestinian’. Israeli first. Palestinian second. Sometimes it takes a shock like this to see so clearly.”
Youssef Ziadna, 47, a minibus driver from the Bedouin town of Rahat near Beersheva, was scheduled to pick up eight concertgoers at the Supernova Festival at three in the afternoon on October 7. But at six that morning he received an urgent call from his passengers pleading for an immediate pickup. He got dressed and drove off. A mile away from the site, he was stopped by someone imploring him to turn around and flee.
Ziadna refused. “I had an option to go back. A weaker man may have done a U-turn at that junction,” he told reporters. “But I said ‘no way. I will throw myself at death if it means I can save lives.’”
It was an impulsive decision. “I stared death in the face,” he recounted. “But I knew I couldn’t give up on my mission. I will go and rescue them.” Referring to his fellow-Bedouins, he said, “We’re also part of this nation.” Then added: “We are one people–we are Israelis. We live here together and we need to go hand in hand.”
He drove on to the concert site, met his passengers, instructed them to bring as many others as possible, and only then headed out while under constant gunfire from the ground and from a paraglider above him. Along the way, they picked up two more people. The 14-seater was filled with refugees. He knew alternate dirt roads, avoiding the more dangerous main roads. In all, Ziadna saved 30 Jewish Israelis from certain death.
He told the Jewish Telegraph Agency, “I would never wish on anyone to see what I saw,” adding, “This is trauma for my whole life When I sit alone and recollect, I can’t help the tears.”
Ziadna is a hero in Israel, but has already received anonymous death threats for having saved Jewish lives. A cousin who was in the area was murdered in the brutal attack, and four other relatives are still missing. (The Times of Israel, October 21, 2023)