Nova festival massacre survivors sue Israeli army over failures to prevent Hamas atrocities

Survivors are seeking £44 million in damages after ‘incomprehensible’ security failures


RE'IM, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 21: Israeli solders and visitors walk among a display of photos of people killed during the Hamas attack at the 'Nova' festival site, on December 21, 2023 in Re'im, Israel. It has been more than two months since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that prompted Israel's retaliatory air and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Survivors of the Nova Festival massacre have filed a lawsuit against Israeli defense agencies for negligence, claiming the attack on October 7 could have been averted.

The claim, filed on behalf of 42 survivors, stated: “Were it not for the failures and negligence of the defendants, jointly and severally, the disaster could have been prevented”. The 42 plaintiffs are suing the IDF, Shin Bet, and Israel Police, for 200 million shekels (£44 million) in the largest case of its kind.

The survivors filing the lawsuit claim they suffered bodily and mental harm at the festival, at which 360 people were murdered, and 40 were taken hostage to Gaza. Survivors have described fleeing from Hamas, and hiding under dead bodies to protect themselves from shrapnel.

The suit relates to both the approval of the festival, and the failure to shut it down once security threats became apparent.

Before the Nova festival was approved, senior officers in the IDF’s Gaza division voiced concerns over its location, the claim states. The festival took place near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the border with Gaza. The claim also states that the IDF was warned that it would be difficult to secure the festival, since so many soldiers would be on leave for Simchat Torah.

The event went ahead despite warnings from the Gaza division, and Southern command. The survivors argue that they were not made aware of the security concerns.

The lawsuit also claims that no order was given to disperse the festival, even after it became clear that a security risk was emerging. “One telephone call stood between the lives and bodily and psychological integrity of the plaintiffs – and the destruction of those lives," the claim states.

The claim continues: "All that the defendants had to do was to call the organizers responsible [for the party] to disperse the festival in light of the warnings that were received… It is incomprehensible that the defendants did not order the immediate dispersal of the festival."

The counsel representing the survivors – Anat Ginzburg and Gilad Ginzburg – stated: “"The disaster could have been prevented at so many points in time. We ask the court to step in and compensate the plaintiffs who have been most severely harmed”.

The lawsuit is the largest clam ever filed in Israel against a state body for negligence. According to the claim, this will not be “instead of the state commission of inquiry that will be established”.

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