Israel is organizing showings for media around the world of a compilation of footage of Hamas’s October 7 massacre of 1,400 people in southern Israel, assembled from raw material sourced from victims and perpetrators alike.
The harrowing 44-minute montage has been shown at the UN in New York and Geneva, in Washington, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid and the Chilean capital Santiago, with a further screening in Paris for the press on Tuesday. It has also been shown to Israeli lawmakers in a closed-door session at the Knesset, with some leaving in tears, and was first shown two weeks ago to some 200 members of the foreign press in Israel.
“We’ve screened this film in about 30 countries. We think it’s important that people… know what happened on October 7,” said Hen Feder, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in France.
The devastating attack by the Palestinian terror group on Israel on October 7 killed 1,400 people, 1,000 of them civilians. Some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the Gaza border and rampaged through southern areas for hours. Entire families were butchered together, in some cases burned alive in their homes. People were executed, women raped, and innumerable victims tortured in acts of monstrous brutality. At an outdoor music festival, 260 people were gunned down. At least 240 people of all ages — from babies to the elderly — were abducted to Gaza, where they remain captive.
It was the worst attack on Israel since its 1948 founding and the worst single-day killing of Jewish people since the Holocaust.
Israel has vowed to destroy the Islamist terror group, launching a campaign in the Gaza Strip that it says is targeting terror infrastructure while striving to minimize civilian casualties.
The deeply shocking film screened by Israel is not available to the general public. In Paris, it was seen by around 50 invited journalists, while it has been seen by a mixed audience of journalists and diplomats in other cities. It includes gruesome scenes of families huddled together in death, scorched bodies and mutilated victims, including children and babies.
‘Get the message through’
While some voices, particularly in the Arab world, have baselessly cast doubt on whether civilians were really massacred by Hamas, Israel “is trying to get the message across through the media” that the barbaric killings did indeed happen, Feder added.
One sobbing guest left the Paris showing before the film ended, while others sat silently through the session.
The screen showed a series of bloodied, burned and tormented bodies of men, women and children. Lying in bushes, living rooms and bathrooms, many no longer resembled human forms.
One clip showed a meters-long trail of blood across brightly colored floor tiles.
The Israeli government says it has gathered hundreds of hours of footage of the Hamas onslaught.
The images are compiled from bodycam and smartphone footage shot by slain or captured Hamas fighters, the terror group’s social media posts and the phones of victims and first responders, Israeli diplomats said.
Among them are clips of armed men killing civilians, including in Kibbutz Be’eri, where 85 were killed, 26 taken hostage and four are missing, and mowing down young people fleeing the music festival.
“The most difficult thing is, you see images of domestic life. Parents with children in pajamas, in their underwear. And all of a sudden, really, really violent things are happening to them,” an AFP journalist who viewed the film in Israel said.
One clip shows a father being killed in front of his two young sons.
A nanny cam still running in one room captures one of the boys screaming “why am I still alive?”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said in a statement on Friday that his country wanted to “to show and remind the world that we are dealing with a terrorist organization whose goal is the destruction of Israel.”
“Israel will not stop and there will be no ceasefire until we meet the goals we have set: destroying Hamas and bringing our hostages home,” Erdan added after the film was shown to dozens of diplomats in New York.
Israel’s efforts to circulate the film come amid growing criticism from rights groups and even unease among Israel’s Western allies over the scale of its bombing campaign in Gaza since the October 7 attacks.
The Hamas-run health ministry claims that more than 10,300 Gazans have been killed since the start of the war, a figure that cannot be independently verified. The terror group has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll. The figures do not differentiate between terror operatives and civilians nor between those killed in Israeli strikes and those killed by the hundreds of rockets fired by terror groups that have fallen short inside the Strip.
Israel says that it tries to minimize civilian casualties and accuses Hamas of using noncombatants as human shields while embedding fighters and military infrastructure in homes, schools, mosques and hospitals.
The effort to show the film comes as Israel “is losing on the communication front,” said Jerome Bourdon, a communications expert at Tel Aviv University.
Paris embassy spokesman Feder said there was no link between the showing of the film and the reaction to the bombardment of Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly supports releasing the video into the public arena. It has yet to be published due to opposition from the families of some of the victims seen in it, according to the Ynet news site. Israeli mental health experts have also warned against making it public.
Netanyahu reportedly believes the compilation will aid Israel’s advocacy efforts for its war against Hamas, while some officials are said to think that once the video is out, it will quickly lose its effectiveness.
The Israel Defense Forces is considering publishing at least part of the footage, in coordination with the victims’ relatives.