OpinionIsrael at War

Watching the images of death

Seeing Hamas gleefully hunt down Jews made me realize even more that this fight must end in victory.

Days after Oct. 7, the destruction can be seen after the assault by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be'eri, near Gaza border in southern Israel, Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
Days after Oct. 7, the destruction can be seen after the assault by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be'eri, near Gaza border in southern Israel, Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
Clifford Sobin
Clifford Sobin is the author of Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End.

I recently saw the latest version (#17) of the IDF’s 45-minute video of the horrors of Oct. 7. It is composed of raw footage distilled from hundreds of hours of video and audio taken from Hamas terrorist GoPro cameras, videos posted by Hamas on Telegram, CCTV footage, mobile phones belonging to terrorists and their victims, and dashboard cameras. 

The IDF’s original purpose in making the video was to provide objective documentation to the foreign press corps. Subsequently, many high-level diplomats and politicians have seen it. So have influencers and selected others. The IDF has also permitted IDF military attaches to show it abroad. Nevertheless, access is controlled.

I saw it at the IDF Spokesperson’s Office in Tel Aviv along with several terrorism experts. We had to hand over our phones and recording devices beforehand. I agree with this control over the video’s dissemination. It is too graphic, too personal, too potentially emotionally damaging to do otherwise.

The film contains no voiceovers. Sparse captions indicate location or translate the words of the killers and the terrified victims.

The footage proves that the wholesale murder, rape and pillage on Oct. 7 was carefully planned. The gore and savagery were too widespread for it not to be and Hamas commanders are heard encouraging beastly conduct or receiving updated reports of it.

Some of the 3,000 terrorists were well-trained and methodical, capable of calmly going about the business of killing Jews. Others were less disciplined and more exuberant. The IDF estimates that 1,000 were Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas, so-called “non-combatants,” who followed the first wave of the assault, often with guns, to take their share of blood and booty. Most were giddy with glee, ecstatic at their success and energized by their sadistic endeavors.

All were hunting, lusting for more to massacre and desecrate, to assault and degrade and kidnap.

IDF and security personnel eventually killed 1,000 of them, but 2,000 returned to Gaza, where massive crowds hailed them. I saw them on the video exuberantly cheering their heroes’ return.

Below, is a description of some of what I viewed. I encourage you to read every word because it is crucial for you to understand what Israel faces if Hamas survives and still faces in the north against Hezbollah, whose plan Hamas took for its own.

The scenes included:

  • Badly burned bodies, some with skulls misshapen, some with flesh flaking off or rooted into the ground.
  • Two boys, one carried by their father, entering a safe room followed by a terrorist who killed the father with a hand grenade. The boys burst past their father’s corpse into the kitchen, crying, bleeding, and questioning their continued existence until joined by the killer who calmly raided the refrigerator for libation.
  • Innumerable scenes of young Jews mowed down while scrambling to escape.
  • Bodies at the Nova concert lying in heaps.
  • A killer torching a home with people inside.
  • Murderers shooting people in their homes.
  • A terrorist shooting into temporary outdoor toilets where at least one couple cowered—and then just blood.
  • Girls hiding together until savages shot them.
  • Scores of cars riddled with bullets and burned on a highway of death. Some with occupants still inside, some with their occupants dragged into the streets, bloodied and misshapen by the means of their demise.
  • A driver dying while motoring through the storm.
  • A terrorist brandishing a long, sharp knife that he used to saw the head off a man hopefully already dead. He then dragged the head away.
  • Another sadist trying unsuccessfully to decapitate a man on the ground with a hoe.
  • Family members looking for their daughter stoically viewing a dead girl to determine if she was their loved one. The lower half of her clothing was gone, her face swollen and her arms stiff. “Look for tattoos,” one said. Fortunately, she was not their child. But she was someone else’s. Their search then continued.
  • Madmen hunting prey—when they saw signs of life they fired—admonished sometimes to shoot the heads of their victims with one shot to save ammunition.

The video also depicted some of those who survived the initial onslaught. They were dragged away to captivity—some thrown like cordwood into the back of pickup trucks. Another, partially naked, was sat on and spit on in Gaza. There were women pulled by their hair and one man ripped from the pile of bodies around him because he was still alive.

There was also an audio segment in which a Hamas killer proudly bragged to his father and then his mother that he was a hero because he had killed 10 Jews with his bare hands.

None of this bestiality was an accident. It was a preplanned slaughter used by Hamas to sow terror.

The film documented the deaths of 139 souls. It does not document the deaths of the more than 1,000 others exterminated that day—many in more gruesome ways.

Before viewing the video, I thought I knew all I needed to know about why it is so important for Israel to win this fight for its security. But living in America, as painful as that day was, it was more of an intellectual pain. That’s not the case for Israelis. They feel the pain through the loss of their loved ones and friends, and the sense of violation that comes from their homes being invaded and their children massacred. Oct. 7 has shown that there is no perfect defense and Israelis must ensure that no one can do this to them again.

The video hit me on a gut level. As I watched one after another die, I wondered about their life stories, snuffed out on Oct. 7. I realized that it was chance, not their deeds, that killed all 1,200 who died that day. When the lights turned back on, I was shocked, saddened and angered, but also resolute. This fight must end in victory, not diplomatic half-measures that will be the breeding ground for another Oct. 7.

Now I understand even more what it has been like through the ages: to be hunted because you are a Jew. And I understand that we must always support those who fight the hatred that surrounds us and stand against it ourselves. Resolutely and always.

And I hope you understand too.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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