Dashcam footage from Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel shows the extraordinary moments in which a young off-duty soldier defended civilians huddled inside a rocket shelter as terrorists outside threw in grenade after grenade in a bid to kill those inside.
Staff Sgt. Aner Elyakim Shapiro, 22, lobbed them back out, one after the other. He did so seven times, before the eighth grenade mortally wounded him.
Though Shapiro did not survive, his actions helped save the lives of at least seven others.
People escaping from the Supernova Festival, where terrorists had gunned down hundreds of party-goers, had run into the shelter to hide, but soon came under attack again as the terrorists continued to maraud through the area.
The terrorists fired into the shelter and threw in multiple grenades. After Shapiro was injured, terrorists entered the shelter and killed some of those inside, injured others and took some hostage. Those who survived did so by hiding under the bodies of the dead for hours until rescuers arrived at their location.
The graphic video, which was released in full on Tuesday after clips from it emerged throughout the last week, also shows the moment one of the Israeli civilians attempts to flee from the bomb shelter and is gunned down by the terrorists (offscreen).
Of those who had been in the shelter with Shapiro, at least seven survived and several others are believed to have been taken hostage.
In an interview with Channel 12, Shira and Moshe Shapira discussed their son’s actions and the connections they have formed with those who survived thanks to him.
“What brings comfort is that he saved so many people and gave them life. We won’t get to see him have children, but we were privileged to see those whom he saved, who will go on to have children and will live good and happy lives,” his mother Shira said.
“I am filled with love for these people that Aner saved without knowing,” she added, noting that many of them had attended his funeral and had come to pay their respects over the last month.
In a segment aired on Channel 13, survivors of the attack met with Shapiro’s parents, describing how he protected them with his life.
“What I remember about him is that straight away, he said there was a terrorist intrusion and gave us certainty, and even though he didn’t say much he made us feel calm,” Agam Yosefzon said. “I remember saying to him ‘Thank you for coming here, you’re keeping us calm.’ That was the last thing I remember saying to him before everything happened.”
“He had this sense of quiet about him,” she added. “I’ve never seen so much nobility in one person.”
Sporting a brace on his arm from the injury he suffered that Saturday, Itamar Shapira (no relation) presented Aner’s parents with two photos he had taken that morning as he hid inside the public shelter.
In the photos, Shapiro can be seen standing at the entrance to the shelter while others crouch down on the ground behind him.
“He spotted the grande straight away and threw it out quickly, in less than three seconds,” Shapira said. “What’s extraordinary is that you don’t know how long they were holding it before they threw it inside. It’s the most courageous thing I’ve ever seen anyone do in my life. He’s a hero.”
Speaking to Channel 12 on Tuesday, Shira said of her son: “As his mother, the word ‘hero’ doesn’t quite stick to him. If he was here now he wouldn’t like all the praise, he would say ‘I did what I had to do,'” simply, without posturing or medals and crowns. ‘I just stood there and did what I needed to do,’ he would say. That’s how he was. He would simply do what needed to be done.”
Prior to October 7, Shapiro had been working on an album that he had yet to release. Following his death, his parents uploaded one of the songs to YouTube, and have plans to release the full album in the coming months, they said.
“We see his whole life, not just what’s being spoken about now — that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Shira. “He had a whole life, which ended too soon, in which he was an amazing friend, son, brother and grandson, who always treated people in the best possible way.”
Among those hiding in the shelter with Shapiro was his close friend, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, whose arm was blown off from below the elbow during the attack.
According to eyewitness reports, Goldberg-Polin was loaded onto the back of a pickup with other hostages and taken away. His fate is unknown.