Two Dead at Outdoor Rave in Northern Israel; Drug Overdose Suspected

Police are investigating whether one of the men, 55, died of a drug overdose. The second man, 27, died of massive organ failure in hospital

A police officer at 'Neverland' music festival, Kibbutz Lehavot HaBashan, Upper Galilee, October 1, 2018.
Gil Eliahu

Two men died after taking part in the Neverland electronic music festival near Kibbutz Lehavot HaBashan in the Upper Galilee on Monday.

The cause of death is still unclear, with police investigating whether one of the men, a 55-year-old resident of Ashkelon resident, died of a drug overdose. The other man, 27, of Kiryat Shmona, died of massive organ failure in hospital a few hours after he was admitted.

A 20-year-old man at the rave was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries, as was a young woman who fell and sustained slight injuries to her face.

The Upper Galilee Regional Council said that the festival’s producers had obtained the necessary permits for the event “only after all conditions set by the police, fire department and health and security agencies had been met.” However, the council added, “a tragedy like the one that happened today is the reason we decided about a month ago not to allow many more mass parties like this in our council’s jurisdiction.”

“Like in all parties in nature, there were lots of people who did drugs,” a woman who attended the festival told Haaretz. She added that she had heard about the deaths only from the internet and from messages, but that the party had ended several hours early. Several other people said that the police had told them to pack up their belongings and leave because the festival was ending early due to an unusual event.

Among the musicians performing at Neverland – staged for the eighth consecutive year – were the local acts Infected Mushroom, Bliss and Astral Projection and quite a few international performers. The organizers described the event as “celebrating the psychedelic journey of each person individually and collectively. We celebrate the connection to roots, the sense of tribe, mutual responsibility and service to the community and of course the celebration of progress that planet earth has to offer.”

Last year, a young woman, Tohar David, died at an outdoor rave party in the south. The investigation concluded that she had struck her head and collapsed and a delay in calling for help led to her death, a few days later. According to testimony by party-goers released in August, a DJ suggested giving David cocaine to stabilize her: “I said they could give her four lines because they say cocaine cancels out the effects of drugs taken before,” he said.