The sight and odor of the 30 charred our bodies that also smouldered as Haim Otmezgin pulled as much as the positioning of the Nova Pageant on October 7 won’t ever depart him.
However Haim, a 50-year-old prime official of ZAKA, a rescue and restoration organisation that was tasked with cleansing up the 1,200 killed by Hamas on Black Saturday in accordance with Jewish customs, had a job to do.
Because the commander of the particular items at ZAKA, he was accountable for coordinating the response to the lethal assaults, and making certain that every one the our bodies had been accounted for and handled correctly as quickly as potential.
However the brutality with which Hamas had killed greater than 360 harmless partygoers on the Nova Pageant shocked even him, a volunteer who had been working for ZAKA since he was simply 18 years outdated.
Haim, who spoke to MailOnline by means of a translator, stated: ‘There have been at the least 30 our bodies that had been burned alive.
Haim Otmezgin (pictured) is a prime official of ZAKA, a rescue and restoration organisation that was tasked with cleansing up the 1,200 killed by Hamas on Black Saturday in accordance with Jewish customs
Greater than 360 individuals had been killed on the Nova Pageant on Black Saturday
A person holding a weapon grabs one other man subsequent to a automobile throughout an assault by Hamas militants on October 7
‘Many wanted to have water poured on them as a result of they had been nonetheless burning 12 hours after due to the gas they used to set them on fireplace.
‘Their our bodies had been soaking with this gas that [caused them to burn for a long time].’
Hamas didn’t simply use fireplace as a weapon of conflict in opposition to partygoers on the pageant. Sexual violence was used to humiliate the victims on the website, lots of whom had been younger ladies.
He stated: ‘Once I return to the recollections, I keep in mind numerous our bodies had been mutilated to items.
‘Organs had been separated from their our bodies, ladies had been shot of their very non-public areas, the higher components of their legs, their heads.
‘Ladies had been undressed after which they had been shot.
‘A number of our bodies that had been hit by rocks in a really barbaric manner, in a manner that crushed the cranium.
‘I noticed [stab wounds] in very particular areas on ladies, round their genitals.’
Haim, who turned conscious of stories of a Hamas assault early that morning arrived on the website of the Nova bloodbath at 9:30pm, says his position as a frontrunner at ZAKA meant he needed to stop these photos from affecting him.
He says he needed to ‘grow to be a machine’, and was pressured to make some extremely troublesome selections on his manner down from his base in Petah Tikva to Kibbutz Re’im.
Haim, who spoke to MailOnline by means of a translator, stated: ‘There have been at the least 30 our bodies that had been burned alive’
Destroyed vehicles and belongings left on the Nova Pageant website the place lots of had been killed and dozens taken by Hamas
Destroyed vehicles are seen on the rave celebration website close to the Kibbutz Re’im
Family members of Israelis killed on the Nova music pageant plant timber in reminiscence of the victims
Israeli ladies Might, left, and Lilach, proper, consolation one another as they go to the marker for Tifret Lapidot, their good friend who was killed on October 7, 2023 on the Nova music pageant
‘On the best way from Petah Tikva to the south, I noticed just a few civilians waving at my ambulance.
‘I began pondering “I do know I have to get south, however possibly so as to put together for this, I ought to let myself into this example slowly and see what these individuals wanna say.”
‘I believed that they most likely wish to inform me one thing in regard to what’s occurring within the south.’
So he slowed down, and let the civilians, who had a automobile, method him.
‘They stated: “We now have two of them”.
‘I requested them: ‘“What two? What are you speaking about?”
‘And so they simply confirmed me two lifeless our bodies, younger ladies, each shot of their heads.’
He had no selection however to take their our bodies, and proceed right down to the positioning of the pageant.
An increasing number of civilians tried flagging him down as he made his manner down with the ladies’s our bodies in tow, each holding a distinct particular person slaughtered by Hamas fighters, who had been nonetheless rampaging all through southern Israel.
Haim stated he needed to make the very troublesome choice to maintain going, despite the horrors he noticed.
‘I understood that I couldn’t simply cease and take each particular person on the best way, so I carried on.
‘We wanted at the least 15 ambulances and some vans so as to take all of the lifeless our bodies that had been discovered on the best way to the pageant,’ he added.
This was, as Haim put it, when he ‘made the transition from being a human being to a machine.
Dangle-gliding Hamas terrorists had been seen flying into Israel on October 7
Dozens of hostages had been taken from the Nova Pageant
A terrified IDF officer requested Haim: ‘How lengthy does it take for a physique to rot?’
‘I mainly [was] simply seeing these photos, and simply translated it into information.’
Haim stated that he didn’t count on his day would prove like this, when he was awoken at 6:42am that morning, subsequent to his sleeping spouse.
He was referred to as, and advised to right away report back to his base, not understanding how vital his job was to grow to be.
The ZAKA officer was so at the hours of darkness that wasn’t positive whether or not to wake his kids up, not understanding how lengthy he could be away for.
However he knew sufficient to know that October 7 could be probably the most consequential in Israel’s fashionable historical past.
This was cemented at 7:30pm, at his base in Petah Tikvah. There, whereas getting ready for a menace with a then-unknown magnitude, he obtained a name from the Nova Pageant.
A terrified IDF officer requested him: ‘How lengthy does it take for a physique to rot?’
Stunned, Haim advised the officer he wanted extra particulars. The ZAKA officer stated he was advised:’I’ve a carpet of lifeless our bodies in the midst of the forest, I do not know what to do with them.
Destroyed vehicles and private results are nonetheless left scattered across the Supernova Music Pageant website
Automobiles and belongings left on the Nova Pageant website
Ela Bahat touches an image of her 30-year-old son Dror, who was killed on October 7
‘No one defined to me what to do with them. I haven’t got any manner of treating them. I don’t have the gear, the volunteers to cope with this. Possibly you possibly can assist me with this.’
Haim, nonetheless not sure what the officer imply, stated he requested to talk on a video name. It was then, watching a blurred and jumpy video streamed from a smartphone, that Haim understood the dimensions of the atrocity.
He stated the officer advised him that he had counted at the least 125 our bodies, however that there have been many extra that wanted to be counted.
Within the 4 hours after he arrived on the website of the Nova bloodbath, his group needed to clear as many our bodies, consistent with Jewish customs, as potential. He stated ZAKA was capable of clear 237 our bodies in simply 4 hours, whereas nonetheless below fireplace from Hamas’ rockets and weapons.
However with dozens extra our bodies on the Nova Pageant website alone, and lots of extra throughout Israel, Haim stated his bodily well being took a toll as he carried his work on.
‘I didn’t cease working for 60 days. I used to be solely getting 4 hours of sleep an evening, and I misplaced 9 kilos in two months as a result of I didn’t have time to eat.’
It wasn’t solely his bodily well being that suffered.
Private objects from the Nova music pageant website which have been placed on show for household and kin to gather on the Kochav HaYam advanced
The household of Liraz Assulin, 38, who fled from the Nova pageant and was killed through the lethal October 7 assault by gunmen
An individual seems to be at images of people that had been killed and kidnapped through the October 7 assault by Hamas gunmen from Gaza
Haim stated he refused to consider what he was seeing on October 7, as a substitute specializing in the primary job at hand as he labored.
He stated it was solely ‘months after’ the assault, when he spoke to his colleagues, that he started to course of the horrors he bore witness to.
‘I didn’t wish to give it some thought, however I felt that I wanted to talk out after listening to that this stuff had been being ignored and denied.’
‘For the primary two weeks after October 7, many individuals had been chasing after me so as to give my testimony. The police, worldwide media, huge networks around the globe had been asking to listen to the story.
‘However I used to be escaping. I did not wish to do it, and I nonetheless had this excuse of getting many issues to do, nonetheless working all the things.
‘It wasn’t a lie; We had been nonetheless working on numerous the highways. I spent greater than 60 days on obligation.
‘However I had the privilege of escaping. I didn’t placed on any information channels, or social media. I used to be fully disconnected, specializing in the mission.’
‘Possibly it was simpler to do that, extra handy.’
Destroyed vehicles and private results are nonetheless left scattered across the Nova Music Pageant website
Israeli troopers drive by the rave celebration website, the place scores had been killed, close to the Kibbutz Re’im
Destroyed vehicles are seen on the rave celebration website close to the Kibbutz Re’im
‘You’ll be able to by no means be a complete machine in entrance of those scenes and pictures of what we noticed. However what we witnessed over there was greater than any bodily or psychological problem.’
His 13-year-old son saved begging him for particulars, pushed by morbid curiosity and worry for his father.
He stated he would at all times push the requests again, claiming that there was little sign within the south of Israel, and conveniently forgetting to inform his son about what he noticed at any time when he went again.
However Haim couldn’t inform his household concerning the horrors of what he noticed, as they didn’t need to be weighed down with even a fraction of the horrors he witnessed on the website of the pageant.
‘There’s a stability between being supported by my household, and holding them away from the sights as an expert. You’ll be able to inform a part of the story, however not all of it.’
Haim stated he not often advised individuals about what he did at work even earlier than Black Saturday.
‘Each time I come again from any operation that ZAKA conducts, individuals ask me “what occurred, what’s occurring, inform us about it.”
‘Normally I inform them: “Examine it within the papers, I don’t wish to discuss it.”’
He stated that Black Saturday was a wakeup name for Israel: ‘It reveals the fact of how naive we had been concerning the values of conflict.
‘This conflict was about humiliating us. It was about deep hate, it was about defiling [us].’