Sara Gómez Armas
Tel Aviv, Oct 23 (EFE) – Massacres recorded live, streams of blood, charred bodies by the dozens and the body of a decapitated soldier appear in a compilation of audiovisual material, much of it previously unreleased, that the Israeli Armed Forces showed to the media on Monday with the aim of revealing the horror of the massacre perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7 and to prove the Islamist group committed “crimes against humanity.”
More than a hundred journalists from foreign media (including EFE) were summoned to a military base north of Tel Aviv to view the 43-minute and 44-second footage. The video was a compilation of images captured by GoPro cameras carried by Hamas members, security footage from the kibbutz where the massacres took place, video surveillance of roads, and videos recorded by victims, soldiers and medical personnel with their cell phones.
“What you see in the images are crimes against humanity,” Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari warned before the screening.
“They show that Hamas terrorists entered Israel for the sole purpose of killing civilians,” he stressed.
One of the most difficult scenes to watch, and one that caused a strong reaction among the reporters in the room, was that of a father and his two sons, ages 12 and 10, fresh out of bed and still in their underwear, who hear gunfire and explosions and run for cover in the bunker in the courtyard of their home in one of the kibbutzim closest to the Gaza Strip.
Two heavily armed Hamas members see them entering the bunker and throw a grenade after them. The father acts as a human shield to protect his children who come out crying and a Hamas man takes them into the house and offers them water and coke from their own refrigerator, while the children cry and scream in shock.
“Why am I alive? why am I alive?” cries the eldest as he tries to comfort his brother, who says he can’t see out of one eye. The shocking sequence combines footage from security cameras inside the house and community cameras in the courtyard outside.
Later, the mother can be seen arriving with two kibbutz security guards to find the father’s grenade-torn body at the door of the shelter. Without sound, her muffled scream of pain fills the screen, and immediately the guards try to calm her, cover her mouth so she cannot be heard, and carry her to safety.
The sequence ends there, but dozens of clips follow of other raids on homes in the kibbutzim bordering the enclave, or of the massacre at the Reim electronic music festival: people hiding in portable toilets or under cars, Hamas militiamen mercilessly shooting them down to make sure they do not get out alive.
Much of the footage was captured by the very cameras carried by the 1,500 or so Hamas members who were killed in the ensuing fighting with Israeli troops, which were vetted by the authorities.
The most gruesome passages have been culled: one video shows them murdering a young woman who is hiding under a table and begging not to be killed, another one shows them crushing a dying man’s head with a hoe while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great in Arabic).
Another clip shows a Hamas gunman using the phone of one of his victims to call his parents in Gaza. “Look at the pictures I sent to your Whatsapp. I killed ten. I have Jewish blood on my hands. I hope you are proud of me,” he says to his parents, who can be heard, frightened and crying, begging him to come back.
The army spokesman admitted that the decision about whether to show and broadcast these images or not had become a “dilemma,” but clarified that Israel needed to “understand why it is at war.”
“It has nothing to do with the Palestinians or Islam, it’s about not allowing terror to rule,” he said of the Islamist group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza de facto since 2007.
The brutal and bloody Oct. 7 attack sparked a war between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist militias that has claimed more than 1,400 lives in Israel, most of them civilians killed that day in the largest massacre in Israel’s history.
The intense and indiscriminate Israeli retaliatory bombardment of Gaza has caused more than 5,000 deaths, at least 70% of them women, children and the elderly, and more than 15,000 wounded, the greatest human catastrophe suffered in the battered enclave. EFE