30 Oct Three Friends Die Bravely Saving Others at Music Festival Massacre
Three Friends Die Bravely Saving Others at Music Festival Massacre
Ilay, Matan, and Addir attended the Nova Music Festival with friends and girlfriends. Without weapons, they bravely and fatally fought off Hamas terrorists to save others. Now their families are receiving support from the Fund for Victims of Terror.
Ilay Nachman, Matan Eckstein, Addir Masika and Sela Maagan were four close childhood friends. They grew up together in Even Yehuda in central Israel, went to school together, and hung out together. On October 7, they were attending the Nova Music Festival near Kibbutz Re’im, dancing, laughing, and having a good time. They had no idea they would soon experience a deadly tragedy.
One moment they were dancing and enjoying life at the Nova festival, and the next, they were fighting for their lives against murderous Hamas terrorists who infiltrated from Gaza early that Saturday morning. Addir, Ilay and Matan were murdered after saving the lives of their girlfriends and friends who were at the party; Sela was severely injured and faces a lengthy rehabilitation period.
“They saved my life,” recounted Yuli, Addir’s girlfriend, before bursting into tears as she described the final minutes of the group. “When the shooting began, they took us to a shelter. The shelters are supposed to protect you from rockets but not from shooting. The boys didn’t have a weapon on them, but still, when they heard the terrorists coming towards us in the shelter, they simply went outside with bare fists and stopped the terrorists from entering the shelters to look for victims. I didn’t even have a chance to tell him not to leave; he left and he didn’t return.”
“Because of what they did I’m still alive. I can’t think about them without thinking about it. They were my best friends and Addir was the love of my life, but they were also heroes. And I think it’s important for you to know that they were the best of the best and I’m only sitting here because of them,” she added tearfully, while everyone else cried around her.
Yuli shared what happened at a recent meeting at the home of Shiri and Alon Masika, Addir’s parents. Also present were the families of Ilay Nachman and Matan Eckstein, Jewish Agency CEO and Director General Amira Ahronoviz, CEO of the Fund for Victims of Terror Ayelet Nahmia-Verbin, and representatives of Keren Hayesod, who came for a condolence visit to the town that has absorbed such a great loss.
“Every time I saw the group together, I told them: ‘How great it is that you have each other in life.’ And they knew it. They were like every child needs to be. Surfing was their life. They traveled from country to country to catch waves. They all learned how to surf at summer camp. They all did military service for the country,” said Miriam Eckstein, Matan’s mother.
In 2022, after he was released from the army, Ilay Nachman traveled to the United States and worked as a Jewish Agency Shaliach (Israeli emissary) at a summer camp in Pennsylvania.
“When he was in the army, we always worried about him,” Yifat, Ilay’s mother, said. “We worried about him when he was in the army because he served in an elite unit, and he was in dangerous places. The group were like big puppies – they went to one another’s house to eat together, they always chatted with us, they were loving and beloved people. Their friends were all in mourning last week because they had lost their best friends. But somehow, we’ll overcome.”
Ilay, Matan, and Addir were good friends with dreams and plans for the future. Now their families, who mourn their loss, are receiving support from The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror (FVOT). The FVOT, often the first responder for families and individuals impacted by terror, distributes immediate grants within 24-48 hours of a direct attack, offering support for short-term needs and helping with long-term rehabilitation and post-trauma care.
The Fund for Victims of Terror is made possible by the generosity of the Jewish Federations of North America / United Israel Appeal, Keren Hayesod, foundations and donors worldwide and people like you. Our aid is critical for victims’ immediate well-being and long-term recovery and we are currently operating and supporting more victims on a wider scale than ever before. To support the Fund, donate here.