The Belgian parliament has so far refused to screen a film provided by Israel showing some of the worst atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7, with some lawmakers reportedly decrying the video as Israeli propaganda.
The film has been shown dozens of times around the world in controlled screenings to leading journalists, intelligence agencies, and politicians, including at the US Congress and the French National Assembly.
The footage in the video was collected from call recordings, security cameras, Hamas terrorists’ body cameras, victims’ dashboard cameras, Hamas and victims’ social media accounts, and cellphone videos taken by terrorists, victims and first responders.
It has not been released to the public out of sensitivity to the wishes of the victims’ families. It has been described as incredibly difficult to watch.
However, it is being used as part of Israel’s public relations push to help explain its harsh response in Gaza and the necessity of eliminating the Hamas terror group.
In response to a question on X as to why there was no similar screening had taken place at the Belgian parliament, Israeli Ambassador Idit Rosenzweig-Abu said that offers to screen the film had received no response.
Eliane Tillieux, president of the Chamber of Representatives, later replied that no screening would happen because parties had not been able to reach a consensus on the issue.
Rosenzweig-Abu said she would explore other options.
We were officially informed by President @elianetillieux – conference of presidents refused our request to screen the 46 min video documenting 7 October. ???? ????????
We are exploring other alternatives. https://t.co/9ziQy4kC2S
— Ambassador Idit Rosenzweig-Abu (@IditAbu) November 14, 2023
The Ynet news site reported that an attempt to screen a shortened version in the Belgian Senate was also dismissed as being Israeli propaganda designed to cover up war crimes.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen slammed Tillieux for the decision, saying she was “turning a blind eye to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Hamas.”
“This is not a propaganda video; rather it is a film created from footage shot by the terrorists themselves, that shows their indiscriminate slaughter of Israeli civilians.
Turning a blind eye to Hamas’s crimes is tantamount to disregarding Israel’s right to defend itself against a terrorist organization that is worse than ISIS,” he said.
“Hamas is guilty of instigating the war, in which the State of Israel is defending its citizens and is standing at the forefront of the Western world in the face of murderous terrorism,” Cohen added.
In your decision not to screen in parliament the video depicting the atrocities, the President of the Parliament of Belgium @elianetillieux is turning a blind eye to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Hamas.
This is not a propaganda video, rather it is a film…
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) November 15, 2023
Ynet quoted Green Party MP Wouter De Vriendt as chastizing Rosenzweig-Abu for the request, saying: “There are today more than 4,000 children killed by [Israeli] bombs. How many more must die before you react?
“There are some politicians in Israel who are speaking about ethnic cleansing and genocide. Killing a Hamas leader in addition to 100 civilians is outrageous for a country like Israel. We are talking about war crimes.”
De Vriendt said that he had supported Israel in the immediate wake of the October 7 assault that killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw some 240 people taken hostage in Gaza. “But this is no longer possible, stop this viciousness,” he said.
However, not all Belgian MPs agreed.
Georges Dallemagne, an MP with the Humanist Democratic Centre party, said lawmakers had an obligation to see the evidence.
“This film deserves to be seen in Parliament, like other documents,” he told the RTBF news site. “Other countries have already done it or are going to do it. There is a duty to see reality. If we do not do it, others will do it in our place and perhaps the parliamentarians who will succeed us in 20 or 30 years will wonder why we did not want to face reality.”
While Israel has received broad support from many Western nations, in particular the US, UK and Germany, Belgium has not been one of them.
Last week Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter called for sanctions against Israel as the Palestinian toll in Gaza mounted.
“It is time for sanctions against Israel. The rain of bombs is inhumane,” De Sutter told Nieuwsblad newspaper, according to the Reuters news agency. “It is clear that Israel does not care about the international demands for a ceasefire,” she said.
On October 7, Hamas terrorists breached the Israel-Gaza border in a well-coordinated, multi-pronged assault, running rampant for most of the day through kibbutzim and communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Some 1,200 people were killed, most of them civilians massacred in their homes and at an outdoor music festival, and at least 240 people were abducted. The massacre started a war between Israel and Hamas.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Tuesday that 11,240 people had been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, in figures that cannot be independently verified, do not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives, and also include those killed in hundreds of failed Palestinian rocket launches.