The ‘woman in red’ seen around the world in the iconic image of the Nova Festival terror attack reveals her astonishing story of survival, watching her friends die and how her daughter ‘foreseen the danger’… When she wears the famous shawl again for the first time

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By journalsofus.com


  • Vlada Patapov, 25, was seen in footage fleeing the Nova festival on October 7
  • For the first time, a mother has told MailOnline about her experience.



She became known as the Lady in Red and was one of the most haunting iconic images of the October 7 massacre.

A young woman runs for her life, fear visible on her face as Hamas gunmen target the Nova rave festival in the early hours of the morning, killing at least 340 people and taking 40 hostage .

When she was last seen, she had a red shawl draped over her shoulders, and was surrounded by dozens of other frightened celebrants, before climbing into the back of a car and running into the desert for safety.

For several weeks the world wondered whether she made it, whether she was alive or dead.

Now MailOnline has found her and for the first time Ukrainian-born Vlada Patapov, a 25-year-old mother of one, tells her story.

Vlada Patapov (left) is seen in an iconic photo fleeing the site of the Nova Festival massacre on October 7, where Hamas gunmen opened fire on revelers, killing hundreds.
MailOnline has found the woman in the red shawl and, for the first time, Vlada Patapov (pictured) – a 25-year-old Ukraine-born mother of one – tells her story
Vlada became known as the Lady in Red and was one of the most haunting iconic images of the October 7 massacre. Here she is seen again wearing the same shawl
Sitting on a bench by the sea in Ashdod, where she works as a wedding planner, Vlada tells of her terrifying nightmare.
At some point, Vlada began to cry, relieved by the horror of what happened on October 7

Sitting on a bench by the sea in Ashdod, where she works as a wedding planner, Vlada tells of her terrifying nightmare.

At some points, she began to cry, relieved by the horror of what had happened.

She was separated from her partner Matan for most of the day, watching friends get shot and seeing gunmen escape. It took almost 24 hours for her to finally be able to cuddle her three-year-old daughter Romi in the safety of her home.

Vlada said: ‘I’ve never really spoken about what happened to anyone, it’s still very painful for me, I’ve shared the horror of that day with my family and I still pray to God every morning. I am thankful that I am still alive.

‘I sometimes feel guilty that I survived, and other people did not and that what happened to me only lasted 18 hours, but for many people the pain still goes on and I am still a hostage in Gaza. I think about. We should not forget them.

‘The strange thing is that I didn’t want to go to the festival. This was just a last minute thing.

‘Mutton got some tickets, and we went with a friend, but when we left on Friday afternoon I sensed something was wrong.

‘Romi was very quiet, she was always noisy playing with her toys, but that day she was quiet, and I’m sure now she knew something terrible was about to happen.’

After arriving at the celebration site in Ra’im, just a mile and a half from the Gaza border, Vlada, Matan and her friend Mai set up camp and spent the evening talking, a chance to relax from a busy week of wedding planning.

Vlada Patapov was seen with a friend at the Nova Festival, which was attacked by Hamas militants on 7 October, sending celebrants fleeing into the desert fields.
A photo taken by Vlada at the Nova concert the night before the October 7 attacks
Photos taken by Vlada on October 7 when people were fleeing the Nova festival
Photos taken by Vlada on October 7 when people were fleeing the Nova festival

Vlada said: ‘I remember the atmosphere was very strange, people were having fun and dancing but there was no energy for me, and I didn’t dance as much as I usually do when I go to these festivals. I go.

‘It was about three in the morning and I lay down on the mat to sleep.

‘I thought at the time that it was strange to organize a festival so close to the border with Gaza and have rockets coming from time to time, but I thought the organizers must think it is safe or they would not hold it.’

But this was not to happen. Vlada’s sleep was suddenly interrupted at 6.30 am when an air raid alarm app on his phone woke him up.

He said: ‘I looked for Matan and Mai and I immediately heard gunfire. It was fast and very close to us. For a few seconds I didn’t realize what was happening and then Mutton shouted that we had to run for the car.

‘The missiles started coming and the place went crazy, the announcer told everyone to evacuate and people started running for their cars.

‘I think at first people thought it was one of the regular rocket attacks from Gaza and it wasn’t until later when we looked at our phones that we realized it was a justified attack and that these terrorists wanted to kill us.

‘But I don’t understand why, even now, it was just a concert, it was peaceful, people were dancing and they came and murdered people, some of my friends, and for what?’

Vlada was among those who ran across the field. She jumped into a car, but got separated from her companion Mutton
Vlada was among those who ran across the field. She jumped into a car, but got separated from her companion Mutton
Footage posted on TikTok shows revelers seemingly oblivious to the impending terror floating hundreds of feet above their heads.
Eagle-eyed cameraperson suddenly zooms in on some brown dots flying high in the air in the near distance, controlled by Palestinian terrorists
The sound of gunshots and the sight of Hamas gunmen spread panic among the crowd. Hundreds of people who had come to celebrate the festival fled into the surrounding fields and desert.

Running to his car, the trio jumped inside and sped to the exit but other vehicles blocked their path.

Vlada said: ‘Everyone was blowing their horns, I was in the passenger seat and Matan was driving with Mai in the back and then we saw a man in front of us wearing military uniform.

‘We thought it was an Israeli soldier and we’d be OK, then a guy came out from a few cars ahead and the soldier, who I now know was a terrorist, shot him.

‘We all ducked down, and the bullets started hitting the cars around us, but I don’t know how, we didn’t get it, and Mutton managed to overturn us and try to get out on the other side.

‘It was just chaos, there were abandoned cars everywhere and we managed to get to a shelter on the side of the road, where a policeman shouted at us to keep driving east if we wanted to survive.

‘Matan kept driving but we didn’t get very far and then we saw terrorists on cars, bikes and trucks firing towards us so we tried to drive across the field but we got stuck so we all got out and Started walking. We are running to save our lives.

The image of Vlada running for her life in a red shawl (seen draped over her shoulders as she spoke to MailOnline) went around the world
Vlada was last seen, with a red shawl (pictured) draped over her shoulders, before climbing into the back of a car, surrounded by dozens of other frightened celebrants, running into the desert for safety.

Through tears, Vlada said: ‘That’s where I got separated from Matan and I didn’t know where he was.

‘I started running with Mai and we reached near some trees and we were both crying.

‘We didn’t know what to do or where to go and all I could think about was Romy. I kept looking at his face and said that someone has to live for him.

‘So Mai and I started running again, and that’s when you see me in the video getting into the car of my angel, a man named Yosef Ben Avu, he stopped and told us to get in and we went through the shooting. Time went in. Was going on.

‘There were eight of us in the car, it was a Kia Picanto and we were all on top of each other. I called Matan and told him I was fine and he said he too had been picked up and was safe.

Vlada and Mai eventually reached the safety of a military base in Tzelim, while Matan moved to Orim, 20 minutes away.

She said: ‘The whole thing lasted three hours but it was over so quickly

‘The longest part was waiting at the base before I got picked up and going home to see Romy, and I gave her the biggest hug ever.’

The image of Vlada fleeing for her life spread around the world.

Vlada told MailOnline: ‘I’ve never really spoken about what happened to anyone, it’s still very painful for me, I’ve shared the horror of that day with my family and I still think about it every day. I thank God in the morning that I am still alive.
Miraculously, Vlada managed to escape the terrorists and return home to her daughter
Vlada said of her harrowing experience: ‘The whole thing lasted three hours but it was over so quickly’ The longest part was waiting at the base before I got picked up and got to go home and see Romy, and I loved her the most. ever given a big hug

Last month, local artist Karen Misch unveiled a painting that captured the moment, titled ‘The Phoenix’.

Along with the image, the artists wrote: ‘This is based on one of the images from that day, of beautifully young, full of life, people running away from pure evil savages.

‘I wish I knew his name and hope he could name it, but I really don’t.

‘It breaks my heart to see them, realizing that in this realm of pure love and freedom, evil has come, but I know that like the phoenix we will rise from these ashes.’

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