The lawmakers and others gathered to watch the raw footage of the Hamas attacks on Israelis on Oct. 7 were there to be “witnesses” of the tragedy so they could push back against false narratives about the attacks, former South Carolina state lawmaker Alan Clemmons said at a screening at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday.

Clemmons, who is now a judge in South Carolina, was instrumental in bringing the footage to Utah alongside state Senate President Stuart Adams.

About 80 people were present to watch the screening, including state lawmakers, local Jewish leaders and journalists. The movie included footage from body cameras worn by Hamas operatives, dashboard cameras, CCTV footage from the site of the Nova Music Festival and several of the kibbutzes that were attacked, and images shared by Hamas on social media. Everyone who viewed the footage had to sign an agreement not to film or photograph the footage in order to protect the victims.

The more than 40-minutes of footage compiled by the Israel Defense Forces was difficult to watch and listen to, with images of brutal violence and killing, accompanied by the sound of children and adults crying out in fear. The footage also included Hamas militants rejoicing over the carnage.

More than 300 Hamas operatives invaded Israel by land, sea and air on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 people, including 45 Americans. Another 239 people were kidnapped that day, with about 120 still held as hostages. It was the world’s deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Hamas’ invasion of Israel, with all of its brutality, including sexual violence, launched a war that is still raging after eight months. Many Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced because of the conflict, as Hamas continues to hide operatives and military equipment alongside the civilian population. Israel’s counter-offensive has led to the deaths of thousands of Hamas terrorists in Gaza, as well as civilians. There is currently no independent verification of casualties.

Throughout the war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there is no victory without the complete destruction of Hamas.

Rabbi Avremi Zippel, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, attended the screening Tuesday. He said he had read accounts of the atrocities committed on Oct. 7, but “nothing prepares you for what you see on that film.”

Watching the footage, Rabbi Zippel said he was waiting for the “humanity to kick in,” but it doesn’t happen.

He said he doesn’t see the war as one between Muslims and Jews, saying watching the footage did not leave him with bad feelings against those who follow Islam. Most people want peace, he said, including those in the Middle East. Rather, he said, “this is an existential battle between good and evil.”

“I wasn’t ready for the exulting and the joy and the happiness on the faces of some of those people,” he said of the footage.

On the growing antisemitism in the United States, Rabbi Zippel said he was struck by the headband many of the Hamas militants wore, which is also worn by some of the campus protesters in the U.S., although not those in Utah. “We really have been lucky here in Salt Lake City,” he said.

Adams spoke before and after the screening, encouraging those present to stand with Israel in its fight against Hamas and to stand with those who are fighting for freedom across the world.

“There is an element in the world I don’t think we understand,” he said, adding that the hostages cannot be left in the hands of Hamas.

An Israel Air Force major who was tasked with bringing the footage to Utah gave a short briefing before the film and spoke after. He asked that his name not be shared.

The major showed maps of the area, demonstrating the short distance between Gazans and Israelis. He also shared a map of the Middle East, showing the many countries who want peace in the region, compared with those who he said are instruments of Iran, which has been fighting a proxy war against Israel and Western democracies for years, he said.


Hamas has said they would launch attacks similar to the attack on Oct. 7 “again and again if they could,” the major said.

The footage has been shown to many federal and state lawmakers, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he said.

When asked why it was important for people to see the atrocities that occurred on Oct. 7, he asked, “why is it important for people to see the Holocaust, for people to understand this can happen?”

“People said never again, but never again happened again,” he said.

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