Israeli officials show unseen video from October 7 attack
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The video is part of Israel’s effort to convince outsiders that its war in Gaza is justified
Posted: November 02, 2023
Last Updated: November 02, 2023
A screenshot from GoPro footage shows Hamas militants moving toward the border fence separating Israel and Gaza on the morning of Oct. 7. Israeli officials showed 43 minutes of video from the Oct. 7 attack to journalists in Ottawa on Thursday. The attack left about 1,400 people dead, according to the Israeli government, including several Canadians. (Reuters/Courtesy SOUTH FIRST RESPONDERS)
Warning: This story contains distressing details.
Israeli officials invited Canadian media to a Thursday screening of some of the most sensitive footage collected from the October 7 attack on southern Israel, compiled into a 43-minute video that shows the killing or remains of 138 of the more than 1,400 Israelis killed that day.
The Israeli government has arranged private screenings of the material for domestic audiences, such as members of the Israeli Knesset, and for foreign government officials and diplomats, as well as foreign journalists. An official said the same material has been seen by some unnamed members of the Canadian government.
The screenings are part of a public diplomacy effort to demonstrate why Israeli officials say they are determined to never again permit such an attack to take place.
The death toll, like the precise number of hostages abducted into Gaza, remains in flux as Israel learns more about the fate of its missing citizens. Israeli officials say they already have confirmed that more than 300 Israeli soldiers and 1,100 civilians died over a period of about 8 hours on October 7.
Video’s dissemination arranged with families
The video is a compilation of Hamas cellphone, GoPro and dashcam video, as well Israeli cellphone, dashcam, home security video, CCTV and traffic camera footage.
A substantial part of the video content CBC News saw at the screening — perhaps a third — has circulated already on social media. The rest, officials said, had not been widely disseminated because victims’ family members had not agreed to it, or because of Jewish traditions about respect for the dead.
A total ban on video and audio recording at the screening was part of the agreement reached between the Israel Defense Forces and victims’ families about how and where the material would be used.
The footage is graphic and only a few individual faces are blurred. It includes scenes from the attack on the music festival, from kibbutzes, and from army bases.
It shows heavily-armed Hamas fighters raiding a kibbutz, shooting and tossing grenades into homes. It also shows Hamas shooting motorists in their cars.
Shootings at homes, cars and concert-goers
In one case, the same shooting of civilian motorists is captured both by a camera worn by a Hamas gunman and by a dashcam within the car as it first comes under fire and then rolls to a halt against the bumper of a parked SUV. The occupants, a man and a woman, appear to be dead or unconscious when Hamas approaches the car.
Some scenes showed the desperate attempts of civilian residents of a kibbutz near the Gaza border to shelter in safe rooms. In one case, a father and his two boys aged about ten, who appear to have just woken up and are in their underwear, seek safety in what looks like a bomb shelter in the courtyard of their home.
A Hamas fighter sees the three enter the shelter and throws a grenade into the doorway. The blast appears to kill the father immediately, while leaving the two boys relatively unhurt. A gunman takes the boys back into the house, where they can be heard lamenting their father’s death. A gunman enters the room and opens the family’s fridge, offering the two boys some water, which they decline. He then helps himself to some Coca-Cola and leaves the room.
(Reuters/Courtesy SOUTH FIRST RESPONDERS)
One of the two boys attempts to assist the other one, who says he has been blinded in one eye by a grenade fragment. After a lapse of time, with no more gunmen present, the two boys appear to escape the property. Israeli officials were unable to say if they ultimately survived.
The mother of the boys is then seen arriving with two armed members of the kibbutz security team and collapsing in distress upon seeing her husband’s body in the doorway of the shelter.
Victims of all ages
While Hamas appears to have spared the children on that occasion, the video also shows many bodies of children — down to the age of toddlers — who were not spared.
Many of the bodies seen in the film are severely burned and there are also scenes from within burned buildings of victims incinerated beyond all recognition. One body appears to be a man with his hands tied behind his back.
The film also shows an attempt to decapitate a severely-wounded man with a hoe. The man, who has a gunshot wound in his torso, appears to be one of a number of Thai agricultural workers who were employed in some of the agricultural settlements near the Gaza border.
(Reuters/Courtesy SOUTH FIRST RESPONDERS)
There are numerous scenes of Hamas fighters celebrating, waving one finger in the air and shouting “Takbir” and “Allahu Akbar.” Jubilant and excited gunmen can be seen both leaving Gaza in the morning and returning with bloodied captives, and with the body of German festival-goer Shani Louk. Some of those images have circulated widely.
The film shows Hamas hunting people at military bases, kibbutzes and at the Nova music festival, and includes some of the widely-seen footage of panic and flight at the festival, as well as scenes of young people, in some cases severely injured, being loaded into pickup trucks as hostages. One male hostage seen being forced into a truck had lost his hand and part of his arm.
Hamas can also be seen killing injured people and shooting into rooms full of bodies and blood to kill any survivors.
The film includes sound recordings of what Israeli officials say are radio communications between Hamas fighters in which commanders instruct them to behead soldiers and take pictures, and bring soldiers’ bodies back into Gaza for display in a public square.
Numerous dead Israeli soldiers can be seen in the video on the ground wearing body armour and combat gear. Hamas fighters filmed themselves stepping on the dead soldiers’ faces and exulting in their victory.
Israeli officials said they estimate something like 1,200 to 1,500 Hamas infiltrators entered Israel by various means on October 7. They say about 1,000 of them were killed that day and never returned to Gaza. They continue to recover bodies of Hamas fighters.
The message: ‘Never again’
The message from Israeli officials at the screening was that they want the world to understand why Israel will take any action necessary to avoid a repetition of the kind of scenes shown in the video.
They said the aim of the current war in Gaza is to destroy the organization that perpetrated the attack, not to weaken it, and they don’t expect it to end any time soon. Though reluctant to discuss exact timelines, they said they expected it would still be going on “several weeks” from now.
They said Israeli operations are concentrated in the north of Gaza because the main Hamas concentration is in Gaza City and Jabalia. Gaza is divided by Hamas into five brigade areas. Officials said the IDF expects to operate on the ground in all of them because there is no way to destroy Hamas from the air.
The Israeli officials insisted that the IDF does all it can to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza, always fights in a humane manner, and that any such deaths are the fault of Hamas for hiding behind civilians. They drew attention to the fact that Hamas had invested no effort in building civilian bomb shelters, even though they knew their actions would bring bombing on Gaza.
Israel not focused on day after
Asked whether Israel is negotiating with Hamas over the hostages, or was focused on rescues, officials said they were pursuing “all methods.” Asked whether that includes negotiating, an official repeated: “All methods.”
Israeli officials also spoke about
a leaked Israeli Ministry of Intelligence document dated October 13 that recommends Israel seize the opportunity of this war to expel the civilian population of Gaza into Egypt and take the territory.
A senior official said Israel did not plan to move anybody “except to get them out of the way of bombing.” He insisted that Israel has no plans for what Gaza would look like after the war and no vision of any future Gaza government, beyond its determination that it won’t be Hamas.
(Oded Balilty/Associated Press)
Israel hopes for friendly neighbours but it won’t continue to live next to a territory controlled by Hamas, the official added. The official insisted that Israel was entirely focused on the destruction of Hamas in Gaza and that, as far as he knew, no thought or discussion has been given to post-war arrangements, or to what might replace Hamas as the top authority in Gaza.
Israeli kibbutzes and villages that were destroyed will be rebuilt, the officials said, and Israelis will continue to live close to Gaza, but there will be better security arrangements to protect them.
Reluctance to discuss the long term
Officials seemed reluctant to be drawn on questions such as whether Israel would leave a vacuum in Gaza, whether it would attempt to replace Hamas with some other authority and whether it would attempt to weaken Hamas’s appeal by cooperating more with the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinians who are open to negotiating peace.
Officials simply insisted that there were no such plans and the entire government was focused on the task of defeating Hamas militarily.
Officials were asked about the situation in the West Bank, where shooting and arson attacks by settlers on Palestinian villages and civilians had already
escalated dramatically prior to October 7.
Hundreds of West Bank Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been
killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers so far this year. There were at least 123 Palestinian deaths between October 7 and October 29, including 33 children.
‘No knowledge’ of settler attacks, land grabs
U.S. President Joe Biden last week called on Israel to do more to stop “extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank” and “pouring fuel on the fire.”
“They’re attacking Palestinians in places they’re entitled to be … it has to stop now,” he
warned Israel. Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also spoke about the attacks by settlers in her speech at the Economic Club in Toronto on Monday.
Officials at the briefing were asked if they were concerned that settler attacks on Palestinians undermined Israel’s public diplomacy on its war with Hamas. They were asked if Israel would act to halt the wave of land-grabbing that has swept through the West Bank since October 7, some of it
aimed at Bedouin pastoral communities.
Officials at the briefing simply denied that such events were occurring. One said he had no knowledge of any
reports of settler violence or of Palestinian property being destroyed or land stolen, and insisted that Israel always acts to uphold the law and punish those who engage in violence.