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Exclusive: Bodycam video shows early moments of Hamas massacre in Israel and tunnels under Gaza


By Oren Liebermann, CNN

Tel Aviv, Israel (CNN) — On the eastern edge of Gaza, dawn is still a few minutes away on the morning of October 7. A group of Hamas militants wait, some packed into a white pickup truck, others on motorbikes. They run through a few final checks, making sure they are recording video and that their weapons are ready.

An explosion in the distance appears to be the signal to move.

As they race to the border, the men shout “Allahu Akbar,” a phrase that means “God is great” in Arabic.

After three minutes of driving, they cross the first border fence that separates Gaza from Israel. The fence is mangled, leaving a large opening through which they pass, though it is difficult to know if it is from the explosion heard moments earlier.

Video from the attack provided to CNN by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) offers a new window into a portion of the Hamas operation launched from Gaza’s eastern border. The video comes from the bodycam of one of the terrorists who took part in the attack. The IDF said it released the video to show the reality of what happened on October 7, a day that Israeli officials have compared to 9/11, when an estimated 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 others taken hostage in Hamas’ brutal assault inside Israel.

The video marks the first time that Israel has publicly released footage of Hamas tunnels in Gaza it says were being used on the day of the attack. It’s unclear if the same person is using the camera in the underground clip, which shows a larger room that serves as a junction leading to a series of narrower tunnels. Wires run along the shafts, although there is no apparent overhead lighting. Instead, the only bright spot comes from a flashlight. Some supplies rest on the floor, along with several blue barrels.

At one point, the men underground point the flashlight down into a deep vertical shaft with a ladder running along one side. There is writing in red spray paint on the concrete walls. One sign reads, “What’s hidden is far worse.”

The video of the attack is an unbroken recording of 100 minutes, starting before the assault and continuing until the camera stops. CNN has geolocated the locations seen in the footage and confirmed they match other footage from the attack.

As the group passes the first border fence, the gunman with the camera shouts repeatedly, “Go right!” He appears to know where he is headed, indicating the depth of planning and coordination as Hamas launched a multi-pronged assault across the Gaza border.

Less than two minutes later, the militants cross the second security fence. They are in Israel and heading toward a kibbutz, racing along dirt roads between plowed fields among a group of motorbikes. Many of the men have rifles like AK-47s, while some carry rocket-propelled grenades slung across their backs.

Seventeen minutes into the video, the pickup truck stops as the gunman opens fire for the first time across an open field with Israeli buildings visible in the distance. It is unclear if he hits anything. For a few minutes, the group pauses and appears to regroup. One man urges everyone not to shoot into the air and waste fire.

At one point, the group thanks God that they made it this far as they wonder where the Israeli soldiers are. So far, their movement has been virtually unimpeded across Israeli territory.

At a field near the Israeli town of Kissufim, the gunman with the bodycam exits the car and advances across a field with other militants. The video shows him run past one man who readies a rocket-propelled grenade on his shoulder. They cover each other as they advance, firing as they move.

The video shows the gunman with the bodycam charging the last bit as he spots an Israeli soldier on the ground. At point blank range, he opens fire repeatedly, killing the soldier.

As other militants catch up, the gunman takes the Israeli soldier’s Tavor rifle. The gunman turns the bodycam on himself for a selfie video. He cheers as others join the celebration.

Moments later, he is more composed as he speaks to the camera, which appears to be mounted on his helmet. He gives his name and says he is 24 years old. He is a father, and he says he killed two Israeli soldiers. He asks God for victory and “well-deserved martyrdom.”

From here, the group advances on motorbikes, speeding along nearly empty Israeli roads.

The gunman shouts with joy as he passes the bodies of Israelis sprawled across the street. His wave of attack was not the first, other terrorists have reached this site before him. As he rounds a corner on the motorbike, he comes to a bus stop that CNN has seen in one of the earliest videos to come out from the day of the attack.  

In that video, dashcam footage from an Israeli car escaping rocket fire at the nearby Nova music festival shows the car approaching a group of militants who open fire. The bullets pierce the glass and shatter the windshield. The car coasts down the road, the driver almost certainly killed in the hail of bullets. The timestamp on the video shows that it is just after 7:40 in the morning.

It also shows the moment when the gunman with the bodycam arrives at the scene, because the car with the dashcam is visible in his video.

For 65 minutes after they crossed the Gaza fence, the gunman with the bodycam and the group traveling around him had nearly free reign in Israel, traveling along roads and across fields with impunity. They have traveled nearly 10 miles, passing the towns of Ein HaShlosha and Kisufim.

Now the group approaches a military base near the kibbutz of Re’im. The gunman closes the distance, firing from the weapon he took from the Israeli soldier as he approaches the gate.

Someone from the base fires back.

The man screams as he is hit, falling to the ground near the weapon. The camera oscillates slightly back and forth as the breathing becomes quick and shallow.

His part in the assault comes to an end. But the terror of the October 7 attacks would rage on for hours to come.

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