Dozens of senators view harrowing video of Hamas attack on Israel

November 28, 2023
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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of dozens of senators on Tuesday attended a closed-door viewing on Capitol Hill of video footage from the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were seen wiping away tears after they left the room where the video was shown. Many senators declined to comment when they left, asking for a moment to process what they had seen.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, however, reacted to the video, saying much of it was raw footage captured from Hamas’s body cameras and cell phones as the attack unfolded.

“We saw terrorists celebrating as they murdered children as they murdered women, as they desecrated the bodies,” Cruz said. “We saw them beheading bodies with knives, we heard audio of terrorists calling their parents, celebrating the people they murdered. There is a level of evil and hate and depravity that defies words, and it is astonishing that there are still some in America and across the globe who deny these atrocities occurred.”

Some of the other senators who attended included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., as well as several Republicans such as Sens. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee; Thom Tillis, of North Carolina; and Pete Ricketts, of Nebraska.

Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arranged the viewing for their colleagues, which was supposed to take place before the Thanksgiving break, but was postponed.

“It’s important to bear witness in real time,” Rosen told a small group of reporters outside the viewing, “Sometime in the future, we’ll go, there’ll be a museum, they’ll be a memorial, there’ll be another Yad Vashem or Holocaust Museum. Just like we do and we honor those who’ve died, whether it’s in war or conflict or from terror, but by then it will be sanitized and memories will be longer gone. It’s important that we see it now in real time because Hamas has vowed to repeat this day over and over, over and over, and there were over 1,000 people massacred.”

Members of the House had the opportunity to view the footage earlier this month and some senators viewed it during recent visits to Israel.

Israel has shown the 46-minute video to lawmakers, journalists and other groups around the world since Oct. 7. NBC News journalists viewed the footage in October at a screening in Tel Aviv and said it showed festivalgoers running, screaming and hiding as bullets and rockets rained down on them. It showed civilians, including young children, shot to death and burned beyond recognition. 

At the Capitol on Monday evening, senior-level officials from the Israel Defense Forces met with a group of Senate Democrats to discuss the military conflict in Gaza and concerns about the humanitarian crisis there.

Meanwhile, the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas entered a fifth day on Tuesday after both sides agreed to extend the pause in fighting to allow for the release of more Israeli hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

President Joe Biden has requested that Congress pass emergency appropriations to provide aid to Israel, but Democrats and Republicans have yet not been able to reconcile their differences over the details of such a legislative package.

In an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not rule out the possibility that Biden could support Congress passing aid to Israel with conditions.



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