Nova survivor played dead

25 June 2024

This article was first published on June 20, 2024 by The Australian Jewish News


“When I came to, I felt like someone was putting ropes on my leg and I didn’t understand what he was doing,” Mazal Tazazo told The AJN.

October 7 survivor
Mazal Tazazo survived the Nova massacre by playing dead.

Ethiopian-Israeli Mazal Tazazo saw her friends murdered beside her, but miraculously survived the Nova festival massacre by playing dead after suffering a serious head and hand injury.


The 33-year-old mother and social worker was running from terrorists on October 7 when she was knocked unconscious by a blow to the back of the head.


“When I came to, I felt like someone was putting ropes on my leg and I didn’t understand what he was doing,” Tazazo told The AJN.


“I only understood that I needed to play dead. One of them come close to me, so I held my breath and he picked up my face to look at me. I had my eyes closed, and he let go.”


Thinking she was dead, Tazazo was spared a bullet. She soon realised that when she was hit by the butt of a weapon, her finger took the brunt of the blow.


Tragically, her friends Danielle and Yochai were lying dead on either side of her.


“I waited there and prayed that someone would come and rescue me, but the terrorists were burning all the bushes and I needed to run from the fire,” Tazazo said.


She spotted a car and ran for her life. Once inside, she hid in a ball for two hours until another festival goer rescued her.


Stephen D Smith
Dr Stephen D. Smith has partnered with the Israel-Is team to create Be the Witness.

Tazazo is one of five survivors whose testimonies are being used in a powerful virtual reality experience. Israel-based NGO Israel-Is has teamed with the genocide testimony specialist Dr Stephen D. Smith to create “Be the Witness”, enabling viewers to stand in the locations where the atrocities took place with the people who survived.


To mark the launch of its new Gesher initiative tonight (Thursday), UIA will present the virtual reality experience to participants.


Smith, who has worked in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies for 30 years, said harrowing footage and audio from Tazazo taken on October 7 is used in the project.


“Throughout the day she had her camera on,” Smith told The AJN.


“You actually hear her and her friends, Danielle and Yochai, discussing what to do, where to go, where to run. It’s literally the last conversation she had with them.”


Smith said he has been “profoundly affected” by the lack of sympathy shown to these survivors by the wider community.


“Their stories were politicised before they even told them,” Smith said.


“They got turned into objects of political rhetoric before they even opened their mouths.”


To learn more about the initiative and to register for the Gesher launch visit the Gesher website.