Yussef Alziadna, a southern Bedouin minibus driver, will be remembered for his bravery on the first day of the attack, when he stepped up to save the lives of 30 partygoers from the music festival at Kibbutz Re’im, as it turned into a massacre.
The day before, on Friday, Alziadna was hired to drive nine young Israeli men and women to the event, and was supposed to drive them home the following day at noon.
At 6am, he received a panicked phone call from them, asking him to come immediately because there was an alarm.
“I didn’t hesitate, didn’t brush my teeth or wash up, just immediately left the house to go get them,” he told Globes.
As he arrived at the party, Alziadna suddenly found himself under fire: “Around Kibbutz Be’eri, I could hear the gunshots and bullets over my head. I stopped, got out of the car and got on the ground. Whenever I raised my head, I heard another shot in my direction,” he recalls.
Lying there, he heard the cries of partygoers, calling to him for help.
“They yelled, ‘We are being shot!’ I got up and took whatever I could find to hold for protection.”
He picked up not just his clients, but crammed 30 people into his shuttle van, as the horrors around him continued to spiral out of control: “Thousands of people were running in panic, in all directions, being shot at, and I could not tell where the shots were coming from.”
While driving away as fast as he could, under fire, the driver came upon a young woman shot in the leg, picking her up hastily, as Hamas bullets kept flying in all directions.
“I’m severely traumatized by everything that happened. I cannot sleep since then,” he says.
The way Alziadna sees it, he could not turn down this call for help: “I am an Israeli citizen and I am proud to be an Israeli citizen. We will continue to live side by side, no matter the situation — as one nation, through war and peace alike.”