360 people died at the Supernova festival, and forty others were taken hostage by Hamas. But not Vlada Patapov. She ran for her life on Saturday morning, October 7, and had a narrow escape. The images in which she was also seen shocked the world. But who the woman in the red blouse was, and whether she survived Hamas’s surprise attack, remained a mystery. The British newspaper Daily Mail has now been able to speak to her.
The young woman, born in Ukraine and mother of a three-year-old daughter, appears to live and work in the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod, just north of the Gaza Strip. On October 7, she attended the festival with her partner Matan and friend Mai. All three of them lived to tell the tale, but other friends of Vlada were less fortunate.
“Sometimes I feel guilty that I survived and others didn’t, and that what happened to me may have only lasted 18 hours, while for many others it is still going on,” Vlada told the Daily Mail. At the festival itself she immediately thought there was a strange “energy”. Although this may also have had to do with the fact that the Gaza Strip was only a mile away, an idea she said she did not feel comfortable with.
After a night of partying, she went to sleep at three o’clock, but at half past six she was awakened by an air raid siren on her phone. Immediately she also heard gunshots. “They were loud and sounded very close. For a few seconds I didn’t know what was happening, but then Matan shouted for us to run to the car,” Vlada told the Daily Mail. “Missiles flew overhead and it became crazy. Someone called for everyone to evacuate and people started running to their cars.”
Vlada and her group were able to jump into their car and race to the parking lot exit, but a bottleneck emerged. “We saw a man in a military uniform. We thought it was an Israeli soldier and that everything would be OK, but then someone got out of another car, and the ‘soldier’, who I now know was a terrorist, shot him,” she says.
Her friend managed to reverse and tried to leave the festival site through a different exit. But the trio soon saw Hamas members approaching them on motorcycles and in cars, prompting Matan to drive through a nearby field. “But we got stuck, so we all got out and started running for our lives,” Vlada told the Daily Mail.
Eight in a car
The woman lost her loved one, but she continued to run for her life. “All I could think about was my daughter Romi. I kept seeing her face and saying that someone had to survive for her.” Another car stopped and let Vlada and Mai get in, after which Vlada managed to reach Matan by phone, who also turned out to be safe. The small Kia with eight occupants was eventually able to reach the safety of an Israeli army base.
Vlada still doesn’t understand what happened to her. “It was just a music festival. And suddenly they started killing people there, including some of my friends. And why?” she still wonders.