There were no babies. No beheaded babies. No burnt babies in the oven. The Israeli army decided to keep the worst of the images of Hamas massacring Israeli civilians out of its screening presented in Los Angeles on Wednesday — a compilation of video from victims’ cellphones, terrorists’ bodycams, kibbutz security cameras, city CCTV, first responder phones and intercepted conversations.
It was bad enough without them. You know without my saying so how horrible it was. Perhaps the nightmare of 1,400 people slaughtered on Oct. 7 has been digging a dark hole in your psyche, as it has mine.
The real-time images of “Bearing Witness” were very much the stuff of a horror movie — a woman in pink pajamas cowering under a desk, shot at close range. An attempted beheading of a corpse with a garden hoe. Two little boys on a kibbutz, roughly age eight or nine, who race into their safe room with their father, only to see a hand emerge from around a corner and lob a grenade inside. The father is killed. The boys were shown running out screaming, back into their home, captured from the distant vantage point of a security camera.
There was an ominous moment when a dozen women soldiers — out of uniform — gather in a corner of an unidentified room, talking in panicked tones, one of them recording on her phone. Far across the room, a Hamas terrorist appears with his machine gun. The video ends suddenly. We do not know what happened to the women.
Some of this footage has already been on social media — images of bodies littering the road near Sderot, video of young people stampeding across a desert plain as they flee the grounds of a music festival, audio of the plaintive cries of a first responder (“They’re dead, all dead”) as he discovers piles of young bodies.
And as the IDF representative at Wednesday’s screening mentioned, these images were drawn from fewer than 150 of the dead. We hear audio of a Hamas commander telling his fighters to send a corpse back to Gaza City so the crowd can do what it wants with it. You see bleeding hostages dumped like burlap sacks into the back of a pickup truck. You see many, many people burned into charred, unrecognizable remains.
What really stuck with me were some of the less obvious moments, like the jubilation of the Hamas terrorists, flashing broad smiles and stabbing the air with their guns after shooting civilians in their cars.