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on the hill

House members left in stunned disbelief, horror by video of Hamas’ attack on Israel

Lawmakers exited a screening of video from the Hamas attack largely in silence, several of them openly crying

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A Hanukkah menorah is left on a counter of a destroyed house after Hamas attacked this kibbutz on October 7th near the border of Gaza on November 01, 2023 in Kissufim, Israel.

House lawmakers were stunned into shock and disbelief by a screening on Capitol Hill of footage of Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

The roughly 45-minute video assembled by the Israeli government — versions of which have been shown to international media, diplomats and lawmakers, among others — includes graphic footage of Hamas murders and atrocities, some of it pulled from the group’s own body cameras.

Lawmakers left the screening largely in grave silence, visibly shaken, several of them openly crying and comforting one another. One lawmaker, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA), left the screening in tears less than five minutes after entering.

The screening was attended by a packed audience of lawmakers, including some such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Greg Casar (D-TX), who are supporting a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) attended for a few minutes. The screening was organized by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“How anyone could call for a cease-fire after watching that — they’re not understanding what is actually happening,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), who traveled to Israel over the weekend, told Jewish Insider as he came out of the screening.

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) told JI she was “absolutely gutted.”

“Seeing the video footage of people celebrating the killing of Jews shows what we’re up against. And the fact that anybody would encourage or condone what Hamas did that day. It’s outrageous,” Stevens said. “It’s unbelievable seeing footage like that in the year 2023, in places we’ve all been.”

Disbelief was a common response from lawmakers.

“It’s obviously horrific and gruesome and it’s hard to believe that in the year 2023 things like this are still happening, but unfortunately they are,” Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA) said.

Multiple lawmakers compared the footage to the Holocaust.

“I’m feeling like I felt when I went to Birkenau,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s just war crimes. Unbelievable.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) responded simply, “Never again.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) said he had seen similar footage on social media as the attack unfolded.

“I feel the same way I felt watching what occurred on social media,” Donalds said. “Israel must do everything it needs to do to obliterate Hamas. Period.”

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), who exited the screening visibly upset, said at an event shortly after the screening, “I think it’s important to see and to make sure that our colleagues see because there should be no mistake about what Hamas is.” 

Senate lawmakers will have an opportunity to view the footage on Thursday.

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