(Jerusalem, October 18, 2023) – Human Rights Watch has verified four videos from the October 7, 2023 attacks by Hamas-led gunmen, showing three incidents of deliberate killings, and presents this analysis in a video published today. The attacks should be investigated as war crimes.
On the morning of October 7, 2023, heavily armed men breached the fences separating Israel and Gaza and entered southern Israel. At least 1,400 people were killed, many of them civilians, including children, according to Israeli officials. Human Rights Watch continues to investigate these incidents, as well as others, as war crimes.
“These attacks highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s ongoing investigation,” said Ida Sawyer, crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch. “The ICC prosecutor has made clear he can investigate serious crimes committed both by Palestinian armed groups in Israel and by Israeli authorities in Gaza.”
Following the October 7 massacres, Israel responded with thousands of airstrikes on Gaza, killing thousands of people, including hundreds of children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Armed groups in Gaza have fired thousands of rockets into civilian areas of Israel, inflicting further deaths and casualties.
Since 2007, Israel has maintained a closure of the Gaza Strip and, for decades, has systematically repressed Palestinians.
Under international humanitarian law, or the law of armed conflict, targeting civilians is strictly prohibited, and intentionally targeting and killing civilians are war crimes. Violations and abuses by one party in a conflict do not justify violations, including targeting civilians, by another.
The three incidents Human Rights Watch analyzed were captured on dashcam and security camera footage on October 7. These videos were shared to Telegram by the South First Responders account.
Human Rights Watch verified the videos by verifying the coordinates, timestamps, and date stamps on the videos and comparing them to satellite imagery, open-source imagery, and shadows to determine the time and place the incidents took place.
In one verified video, dashcam footage taken at 7:55 a.m. shows seven gunmen, including several yelling in Arabic, kick a shirtless man in front of a bomb shelter connected to the Re’im Junction bus stop, a few minutes’ walk south from the location of the Supernova music festival. One gunman shouts in Arabic, “guys, inside, inside here,” and they appear to argue briefly before another gunman throws an object into the shelter. A man dressed in civilian clothes dashes out. The gunmen yell, take aim, and shoot at him from behind as he tries to flee. As they are shooting, there is an explosion inside the shelter. The video ends, and it is unclear whether either man survived. CNN visited the shelter on October 9 and reported that its interior was splattered with blood.
In a second verified video, security camera footage filmed at 8:43 a.m., a man in civilian clothing who appears to be fatally shot lies bleeding on the ground in front of Kibbutz Mefalsim, about 24 kilometers from the bus stop in Re’im. A group of gunmen congregate in front of a structure close to the dead man and one throws an object toward it. Within 15 seconds, there is an explosion inside the structure and a gunman drags out a person, shoots them at close range, and beats them with the butt of his rifle as the other gunmen look on.
In a third verified video, dashcam footage filmed at 9:23 a.m., a dusty parking lot is seen next to the Supernova festival grounds. Smoke billows in the background. A gunman shoots toward a bloodied man in civilian clothing crouching next to a car, then leads him off camera. Another man, who briefly looks up and moves his leg before lying still, is on the ground behind a vehicle. He does not appear armed. A gunman runs up to him, aims the rifle at his head, and shoots him at close range. His body jolts from the impact, and then goes limp.
In a fourth verified video posted to social media and captured by the same dashcam just over two and a half hours later at 12:12 p.m., the victim is lying on the ground in the same position, unmoving and most likely dead. Men are seen taking small items out of the victim’s pockets then looting the car, where they find a woman hiding inside. They lead her away, off camera. What happened to her is unknown.
The ICC prosecutor could investigate alleged war crimes committed during the fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. On March 3, 2021, the ICC prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into alleged serious crimes committed in Palestine since June 13, 2014. Palestine became a member of the court on April 1, 2015. On October 13, Human Rights Watch called on the ICC prosecutor to urgently issue a public statement regarding the mandate of the ICC as to the current hostilities between Palestinian armed groups and Israel.
Over the coming weeks and months, Human Rights Watch will share additional research findings, building out a body of evidence of grave abuses in Israel and Palestine, and calling for those responsible to be held to account.