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Videos show new details on how Hamas launched surprise assault on Israel

By Gianluca Mezzofiore, Paul P. Murphy and Allegra Goodwin, CNN

(CNN) — Armed militants from Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel at dawn on Saturday, blasting holes in the border fence, killing an unknown number of Israeli soldiers and taking hostages, propaganda videos geolocated and authenticated by CNN show.

Israeli soldiers at border posts appeared to have been largely caught by surprise by the assault, which was carried out using what appeared to be drones, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles and assault weapons, the videos shared on social media by the Islamist militant group Hamas show.

The militants also took over military bases near the border, capturing military vehicles and setting fire to tanks. In some cases, fighters advanced for a few miles into communities near the security fence separating Gaza from Israel, taking civilians captive.

CNN has examined nearly a dozen Hamas propaganda videos, using analysis and geolocation to piece together what happened in key locations. These videos, published by Hamas on their social media channels, were heavily edited by the terror group.


At a nearby outdoor music festival, taking place just under two miles from the border, some attendees told CNN that they first became aware of the attack from the sound of rockets.

A video posted to a Hamas social media account shows an attack near one section of the border fence when a drone filmed an attack on an Israeli tank. Nearby, in a separate video, smoke is seen rising near a fresh breach to a fence. The video showed an Israeli tank burning near that breach.

Concertgoers said gunfire began roughly 30 minutes after they first heard rockets and explosions. Two attendees told CNN that they had already begun to evacuate the area because of the rockets, when they realized they needed to run to escape bullets.

The militants advanced all the way to a kibbutz about three miles southeast from the border with Gaza, according to the IDF.

Videos geolocated by CNN show armed militants moving around the Be’eri kibbutz and taking multiple Israelis captive. The current whereabouts of these hostages is unknown, but CNN confirmed at least some of the festival attendees were filmed being paraded around Gaza by armed militants.

The Erez Crossing

A video geolocated by CNN shows militants from Gaza, entering the Erez military facility after breaching the border with explosives. The Erez Crossing is the main border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The fighters are then seen firing at a guard tower and moving inside what appear to be the living quarters of the military base.

The first-person-view video continues with one gunman shooting at a man covered in blood on the ground, while other militants appear to take two Israeli men hostage.

As the fighters move deeper inside the base, grabbing an Israeli flag and taking over an Israeli jeep, several lifeless bodies can be seen on the ground.

Near Beit Lahia, Gaza

Video posted by Hamas shows at least two paragliders shortly after take-off, flying in the direction of Zikim, a kibbutz just over the border.

Behind them, a barrage of rockets, fired on the edge of a field just north of Beit Lahia, Gaza, are seen flying northward.

This video is the earliest image of paragliders from during the attack to have been geolocated by CNN.

The IDF claimed to have killed two Hamas assailants on Zikim Beach; it’s not known whether these were the two paragliders seen in the video. This attack appears to have been Hamas’ northernmost land assault on Israel.

Nahal Oz

Dozens of Gaza fighters – armed with guns, grenades and bomb-dropping drones – also took control of a military base outside of Nahal Oz, a video geolocated by CNN shows.

At least two Israeli soldiers were killed by the militants, and at least six female soldiers at the base are seen being taken prisoner in the videos.

The assault began with armed men sneaking between two hills near a gate along the Israel-Gaza border fence. They are then seen approaching and moving past a watchtower – the military base’s large communication tower is seen in the distance.  

Once past, the militants – dozens of them dressed in dark clothes – are seen moving across the open towards the base.  

Another video, filmed around the same time by a weaponized drone, appears to have shown the start of the ambush. Three Israeli troops standing near a van on the southern portion of the base are seen before the drone drops at least two bombs onto them. One appears to be seriously injured and the trio is then seen taking cover next to a nearby military vehicle.

One of the videos shows militants throwing a grenade on top of a moving Israeli military vehicle just outside of the base. It’s unclear from the videos how many troops were stationed at the base, or if there were extensive firefights there.

Another video shows several individuals – some of whom appear to be looting the base – on top of and around a few tanks on the base property. A thick plume of black smoke is also seen.


Another video shared by Hamas shows assailants near an opening in a fence close to the kibbutz of Sufa, near Israel’s border with Egypt.

In the same video, fighters are shown storming a nearby military base, at which Israeli military vehicles including a tank are seen. The bodies of Israeli soldiers can be seen in the video, one of whom is bleeding and wearing only a helmet, a tactical vest and his underwear.

This attack appears to have been Hamas’ southernmost land assault on Israel.

Zikim Beach

According to the IDF, Hamas also attempted to attack Israel using boats. Two rubber boats and two other boats were destroyed early Saturday morning, according to the IDF.

Footage released by the IDF on Saturday evening showed a naval ship firing at a purported Hamas vessel.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Dennis Lapin, Benjamin Brown, Abeer Salman, Sharif Paget, Sean R. Clark, Renée Rigdon, Kelly Flynn and Sean O’Key contributed to this report.

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