British-Israeli soldier threw back seven Hamas grenades defending festival-goers, before one blew up in his hand

26 October 2023, 06:05 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 10:42

Aner Shapiro defended his fellow party-goers at the Supernova festival
Aner Shapiro defended his fellow party-goers at the Supernova festival. Picture: IDF/Social media

By Kit Heren

An off-duty British-Israeli soldier who was attending the music festival attacked by Hamas caught and threw back seven hand grenades before the eighth blew up in his hand.

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Aner Shapiro, 22, was killed by the blast as he valiantly tried to protect his fellow partygoers from the Hamas attacks on October 7.

When the terrorist group were heading towards the Supernova festival, Mr Shapiro was one of around 30 people who took refuge in a single shelter.

Mr Shapiro tried to keep them calm, telling them that help was not too far away.

Hamas found the shelters and began shooting and throwing in hand grenades. Mr Shapiro stood at the entrance of the doorless shelter and caught and threw back grenades.

Read more: 'All Hamas fighters are doomed' vows Benjamin Netanyahu as he promises Israel is preparing ground invasion of Gaza

Read more: Keir Starmer calls for ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Gaza amid Labour infighting after comments to LBC

An Israeli soldier patrol at the site of the Supernova festival
An Israeli soldier patrol at the site of the Supernova festival. Picture: Alamy

Seven people who were hiding in the shelter survived the attack, in part thanks to Mr Shapiro's bravery.

One survivor said that he "saved our lives" and said he "deserves a medal for being our guardian angel."

A woman who relayed the survivor's words, originally written in Hebrew, said: "Aner, a soldier in the Orev company of Nahal, showed tremendous leadership.

"He stood at the entrance to the shelter and told everyone that any grenade thrown in, he would throw back out; and any he missed, they should throw. And thus he and they did, and seven survived who almost certainly would not have.

"May the memory of his courage be of some comfort to those who will miss him for the rest of their lives."

Aner Shapiro
Aner Shapiro. Picture: IDF

It took Mr Shapiro's family three days to learn of his brave sacrifice.

Mr Shapiro's friend Hersh ben Perel Chana was also at the festival and was wounded and taken hostage.

At least 260 people died at the festival, out of around 1,400 casualties in the Hamas attack.

Festival goers hide in undergrowth as Hamas attack event

The event, which was scheduled to coincide with the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, was sold as a celebration of "friends, love and infinite freedom".

But it quickly erupted into chaos as Hamas gunmen arrived on the site in paragliders, motorbikes and pick-up trucks.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday evening to "do away with Hamas by destroying its military and governmental capabilities and to do everything within our power to return our hostages back home".

"All Hamas militants are doomed, above the earth, underground, within Gaza, and outside of Gaza," he said on Wednesday evening.

However, he made no mention of when the awaited invasion would begin. There has been no official word on why the attack has not yet happened.

It has been reported that Joe Biden has been pressing Israel to hold off an invasion to secure the release of hostages, which included dual nationals of various countries.

The IDF conducted a "relatively large" incursion into norther Gaza overnight on Wednesday, targeting "terror infrastructure".

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