'He pulled out a knife, stabbed her, continued to rape her a bit more, and then he let her go'

Raz Cohen, who survived the Nova Music Festival massacre on October 7, became a key witness of Hamas' sexual violence and says he had been inundated with hateful messages online since he shared his testimony with the media

Raz Cohen, a survivor of the Nova Music Festival massacre on October 7, has become a key witness to the horrific acts committed by Hamas terrorists. His detailed account includes witnessing the rape of a young woman by the attackers. His testimony about these atrocities has been reported in various media outlets, including The New York Times.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
More stories:
In an interview with Ynet on Monday, Cohen detailed what he saw on October 7 and how he has been recovering mentally since.
3 View gallery
רז כהן
רז כהן
Raz Cohen
(Photo: Tomer Shunem Halevi, Hagai Dekel)
"About 40 minutes after we hid in a bush, a white van arrived, from which 4-5 terrorists pulled out and captured a girl," he said.
"I don't know if they pulled her out of the van or stopped the van near the girl and grabbed her, I didn't see that. I was inside a large bush, looking through the leaves and branches, and I saw what I saw. I didn't see the details of what they did, but when you see rape, you understand it's rape. When they pull down her pants halfway and 4 men form a semi-circle around her, holding her still while one makes raping motions, you know what you're seeing.
"That was about the entire event; it lasted almost a minute. At some point, he pulled out a knife, stabbed her, and I saw she wasn't moving anymore, she was actually a corpse, she had been murdered. He continued to rape her a bit more, and then he let her go."
Cohen recalled that while he and his friend were hiding in the bushes alongside other revelers from the party, they had a couple of close calls with terrorists, while others hiding right beside them were not as lucky.
"Another couple immediately came down from the direction of the van from where they were and went downstream. I was hiding in a bush in a stream. The couple went down to the stream and passed by us, by the bush, followed by a terrorist. The terrorist called the rest of the terrorists who raped the girl to help him catch this couple. And that's it, and from there it escalated, after they went after them.
3 View gallery
 אנשים שמנסים להימלט מהתופת במסיבה
 אנשים שמנסים להימלט מהתופת במסיבה
Celebrants escaping the Nova Music Festival on October 7
"By the way, they passed by the bush so they dragged a few guys who were with us in the bush, because they were afraid they saw us. I also came out of the bush but my friend Shoham who was with me told me, 'Wait, don't come out of the bush' and the guys who came out of the bush, they caught them too. At least I didn't see it, but I heard the screams and I haven't seen them since they came out of the bush."
Cohen said that many of the terrorists did not appear to be Hamas fighters, but rather regular Gazan civilians, some armed with axes and knives.
"And that's it, and we hid in the bush for 9 hours bush with terrorists around us. These terrorists were not from the Nukhba unit [Hamas' elite force]. They were Gazans, civilians, with knives, axes, I don't think they had firearms, but there were many terrorists around us who did have firearms," he said.
"There was a lot of shooting toward the bush because I think they were shooting at suspicious places, just randomly spraying at places where they thought they would hit someone hiding in the bush, because they didn't scan bush by bush and that's our luck that for 9 hours we were in the bush and no one physically entered the bush.
"By the way, I think they didn't enter the bush because there was just one moment when the terrorists who caught the guys who saw they came out of our bush, they came back and stood outside the bush. They looked at the bush. They hesitated whether to enter or not. I'm looking him in the eye while I'm lying on the ground and I'm looking him in the eye and he's looking back at me, but he doesn't recognize that he's looking at a person because I'm trying to disguise myself. But in the end, he decided not to enter but what I understood from his look was that he told himself, 'I won't bother with the bush when I can walk 100-200 meters and catch other people, it will be easier for me than to catch people in a bush.'"
Cohen said that he had been inundated with hateful messages online since he shared his testimony with the media. "I've received endless antisemitic comments. Many messages on Instagram and calls from abroad in which people called me a liar. But I don't respond to them; there won’t be an end to it. No matter what, we are Jewish, they'll hate us no matter what we say."
3 View gallery
רכבים שרופים ברעים
רכבים שרופים ברעים
Torched cars at the scene of the Nova music festival
(Photo: JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Meanwhile, Cohen says that he also received positive responses "from Americans and people from all over the world," but wondered, "Why are we being criticized for telling about the rapes? Is it because there’s no documentation, so it means it didn’t happen?"
Cohen says he struggled mentally since escaping the massacre. "The last three months feel like we’re still living on October 7," he says. "The fact that I survived the attack, just the fact that I'm here and can talk about it, means that I've made progress in treating myself. But as long as the country is in this situation and we’re still in a never-ending nightmare, it doesn't feel like 100 days have passed since then."
He says that in the first month of the war, he was given psychological treatments but has returned to normal life. "I was in a retreat in Cyprus and in various therapeutic institutions in Israel. In the first week, I was overwhelmed by the situation I was in, but after a month, I think I realized, 'Okay, you went through this, let's move on.'"
From a perspective of 100 days to the war, can you grasp the moment when you survived? "In the first two weeks, I’d tell you that it’s a story about making the right calls, but now I can say it all comes from above. Someone decided that I must carry on, that I have another role to play here.”
“It's a little deeper than that, and it's a longer conversation to have because, ultimately, I did make the right decisions to survive, but I could’ve also made the wrong ones, and it's a matter of a split second between deciding to hide in a bush or to keep running."
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.