Nassau County woman honored after escaping death in Israel at concert

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Monday, October 23, 2023
2 Nassau County residents honored for bravery, aid to Israel
Michelle Charlesworth has details on one harrowing story of a woman from Long Island who escaped the music festival in Israel as Hamas attacked.

NASSAU COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- Two Nassau County residents are being honored for their bravery in Israel.

One narrowly escaped death at the music festival in Israel where the carnage began.

Another is a local cashier who donated a full week of her pay to aid in the war in Israel.

There was an incredibly compelling firsthand account Monday in Mineola from a Jewish New Yorker who was in southern Israel at the peace concert.

Natalie Sanandaji, 28, was at the outdoor concert and had been camping with friends on October 7th when Hamas rockets started to fly.

They heard and saw them, which is not terribly unusual in southern Israel, she explained.

But then more and more Hamas rockets came until everyone realized this was different.

People started to run and drive to try to get to safety.

Then she and her friends hit a roadblock by Israeli soldiers screaming to run for it.

She talked about a million split-second decisions that saved her life that day.

"There were countless moments where we almost hid in a ditch with other children, but then we decided that was a bad idea and that if the terrorists found us in the ditch, we would be done. We would have nowhere to run. We decided to run instead and later we found out that the children who stayed back and hid in that ditch were shot and killed," Sanandaji said. "Something that I want people to understand is that this isn't a fight between Palestine and Israel. This is a fight between Israel and Hamas, a terrorist organization that is just as complicit in the deaths of innocent Palestinians as it is in the deaths of innocent Israelis."

She went on to say that hours later she and her friends were still hiding by a road when a man in a white pickup truck drove up. Was he a terrorist or would he help them?

Turned out he was an Israeli man from a nearby town who risked his life on many trips getting young concertgoers to safety.

That is how ultimately they made it to a safe place. She is heartbroken to see antisemitism in New York, she says.

WATCH: Eyewitness News Reporter Josh Einiger reports from Israel


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