Screening held to show Minnesotans footage of Hamas attack on Oct. 7
Minnesotans are getting a better idea of what happened on Oct. 7 when Hamas killed more than a thousand people in Israel. On Wednesday evening, a group of community members, journalists and law enforcement were invited to view about 45 minutes of footage of the attack.
The footage has been shown to select groups over the last two months, including U.S. Senators and international correspondents. The showing at the home of Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, was the first in Minnesota.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has not watched the footage.
Hunegs told us that 26 people gathered for the showing. The private screening was at the request of the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest and Itai Biran, the consul for political and commercial affairs, attended.
“There’s no way to prepare for it, I think that’s one thing you realize when you watch it,” said Hunegs. “Much of it is seen through car cameras or Hamas video.”
The horrors of the video have been described in accounts from others who have seen it. Recordings have not been allowed.
ABC News Correspondent Matt Gutman describes the footage as “grisly” at times, writing of one clip, ” …militants are busy mashing a dying man’s face with their boots. Another pair screams ‘Allahu akbar’ as they use a garden hoe to try to decapitate another man.”
He described bloodied bedrooms, writing, “there are so many children.”
Both Gutman and the Associated Press described seeing carnage at the music festival Hamas attacked, as well as burned bodies at different scenes.
“I was nervous to see it in a sense of what would you see but no hesitancy in sitting down and watching it,” said Hunegs. “It’s the least we can do, bear witness and be able to communicate to people about what it is that we saw and the meaning of it.”
He recalled similar scenes.
“There’s nothing to prepare you to watch a terrorist cut off the head of a dead Israeli soldier,” said Hunegs. “You see a father killed in the presence of his sons, you see Israeli women brutalized. You see their dead bodies, you see the evidence of the sexual assault. You see people being murdered through windows. You see people dying through windows of cars. You see fields of massacred people outside the music festival. Every horrific scene you can imagine possibly is reflected in the videos.”
JCRC Deputy Executive Director Ethan Roberts said among the most difficult footage to watch, was the attack on Nativ HaAsara, a moshav on the Gaza border.
JCRC members visited the community in 2019 with Minnesota lawmakers and planned to return in November. 20 people were killed there during the attack.
After the video ended, Hunegs said there was a stillness in the room.
“People trying to gather their wits about them,” said Hunegs.
He explained the viewings are important to understand Israel’s response and to combat denial of the events of Oct. 7.
Huengs pointed, for example, to an October statement from the University of Minnesota’s Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies program. The statement voiced solidarity with the Palestinian people and criticized Israel’s actions and the press, writing at one point, “… global media coverage reproduces Islamophobic tropes of terrorism and unsubstantiated claims of ‘uncivilized’ violence.” The University of Minnesota later said the statement does not reflect the U’s position.
“It happened,” Hunegs said. “All the more important for us to bring leaders, as difficult as it is, to see it with their own eyes.”
At least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 injured in Israel since Oct. 7, according to Israel Defense Forces. At least 18,787 people have been killed and more than 50,000 injured in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.