Marlon Solomon
20 min readDec 1, 2023

Content warning: this piece contains vivid descriptions of violence, torture and sexual assault.

“No cause on Earth justifies the killing of civilians, a basic point of principle I will always believe in”

“The point of my politics is a revulsion at human suffering. That is the entire point of all of my work.”

So confesses Owen Jones in his latest YouTube video I WATCHED THE HAMAS MASSACRE: MY RESPONSE after he viewed an Israeli screening of selected footage from 7th October massacre. The footage (which I haven’t seen) is made up of body cam video that the murderers took themselves, along with CCTV, dashcam footage and intercepted Hamas voice recordings.

It’s important to state that many of the allegations made against Owen and his video are flat out false. There is no ‘atrocity denial’, he repeatedly condemns Hamas and discusses the traumatising nature of the footage. There are people who have claimed to see things in the footage that he disputes are actually there such as seeing children being murdered. I believe Owen (and Michael Walker from Novara who he viewed the footage with.) But if this video was only an attempt to set that record straight, or to comment on Israel continuing to manufacture consent for the war with friendly journalists, then these words wouldn’t be being written. This video goes much further than that.

My contention in this piece is that he is squarely guilty of sleight of hand by omission, elision and suggestion which will serve no one except the people with a vested interested in minimising this atrocity or focussing solely on some of the more disreputable claims in order to cast doubt on its severity, magnitude and barbarity. And sadly there are an awful lot of people in those categories.

As far as I’m aware, of his many videos about the current war, this is Owen’s only one entirely devoted to Oct 7th. But only around half is actually about that day, the rest is given over to the politics of the screening, Israel’s response to the massacre and the moral virtue of the presenter. Of the half that is about the massacre, much is taken up with we didn’t see and other initial claims which reasonable doubt can be cast upon.

There’s an argument that this isn’t a video about what happened on 7th Oct, it is simply a response to watching the footage and informing viewers impartially what we did and didn’t see. As Owen says himself right at the start, “this is basic journalistic practice.”

And that would be fair enough except it isn’t that either. It segues deftly into contested aspects of the massacre and Twitter rumours from unnamed sources that have no bearing on what is in the footage. If the falsity or unproven nature of some of the claims from these sources are relevant in a video which is ‘simply responding to the footage’, then why isn’t the testimony of humanitarian first responders, eye-witness accounts, emergency service personnel, major news orgs such as Sky News and even Owen’s employers at The Guardian not deemed relevant? I will leave others to dwell on the why, along with what motivates a person to do such a thing. One can only say for sure it is manipulative. A sleight of hand with an inferred sinister motive cast upon every decision Israel made regarding the footage and how they dealt with the carnage. (I unpack in detail below exactly how he has done this but if you don’t have the time or the inclination to sift through it, feel free to skip to the conclusion.)

Before doing so, some disclosure: unlike some of my peers I don’t hate Owen Jones. I’ve met him, liked him, exchanged messages, we rowed bitterly over antisemitism under Corbyn. I had many beefs with him during that time but I don’t hate him at all. I don’t think he’s a bad person. I believe he’s motivated by a sense of decency and justice, it’s simply that I often strongly disagree with him and his methods of persuasion. I do watch his Youtube channel on occasion and he recently posted a commendable interview with Israeli peace activist Alon-Lee Green which many of his peers would do well to take note of.

Thus I found his latest video genuinely surprising. For me, it crossed a line.

The video begins with discussion of the politics of the screening and the political leanings of the journalists present. He discusses the speakers before moving onto the footage:

“We were told this is only a glimpse into the 1000’s hours that Israel has of this footage. You would expect it be the worst material they have,” he says, completely contradicting his earlier passing comment about how some bereaved relatives do not want the footage shown and this “must be respected.” Two minutes in and he has set out the terms of his argument on a demonstrably false premise. This is the worst Israel has.

He continues, “A genuinely independent journalist or historian wouldn’t conclude that they could accurately assess the full nature of what happened on 7th Oct from this selection.” Which would be a fair comment if that were anyone’s contention.

“None of my following comments detract from the horrific nature of the footage I watched.”

Oh I contend they very much do. It is less than five minutes into the video before Owen is discussing controversial claims that are not related to the footage, “such as a large scale beheading, including the beheading of 40 babies.” He does not go into who made this claim or where it came from, all viewers get was “we were told” and one NBC article with the headline in quotes and the word unverified next to it. It is not clear if ‘we were told’ by eye-witnesses, first responders, emergency service workers or the Israeli state itself. Responsible journalism and reporting would clearly state who did the telling. Aside from NBC, no other newspaper I can find ran with a headline about ’40 beheaded babies’. Owen has every right to discuss this wild claim although actual journalism may deem it worth mentioning that the Israeli army responded to say that they could not confirm that babies were beheaded.

The truth is that it was mainly a Twitter rumour (not only spread by pro-Israel sources) which spread like wildfire. It appears to have emanated from the amalgamation of two Israeli news reports when crews first entered the kibbutz. One report says ‘About 40 babies were taken out on gurneys… Cribs overturned, strollers left behind, doors left wide open’ and another says a soldier “witnessed bodies of babies, some with their heads cut off.” Whilst some bodies are still being identified there have so far been 36 murdered children identified.

Unfortunately the squalid matter of delving into this is a necessity and lesson in not regurgitating far-fetched sounding claims as fact. People who seek the deny the barbarity of 7th Oct continually point to the 40 beheaded babies claim as evidence of widespread fabrication and exaggeration. Placards such as this feature at many pro-Palestinian rallies across the Western World.

A speaker at a recent UK rally cried, “They lied about the 40 beheaded babies, they lied about the rape, what else are they lying about?” So it goes.

Not only is the self-defeating nature of sharing such a rumour obvious but it was completely unnecessary. Just take one of the many such reports from reputable news orgs, this one from Sky News which I recommend people watch for themselves. Here you see a mattress from a baby’s cot soaked in blood, “this baby was probably stabbed in his bed” says the doctor. Sky News say they have seen a photo of a beheaded child. There are numerous other similar reports of beheaded corpses with no reason to doubt their veracity. First responders testified at the time too seeing children who had been beheaded. Obviously none of the above is worthy of even a passing reference in the section of Owen’s 7th Oct video about the act of… decapitation.

NB: The footage does contain two beheadings, including one unsuccessful attempt to decapitate a Thai migrant worker who was still alive. Owen references both although he is at pains to say there was no “mass” beheadings as executions in the footage. Such a relief to find out there was only some beheading.


‘If there was torture too, there was no evidence given for it on camera.” He goes on. Personally I would describe a prolonged attempted live beheading as a form of torture, as is burning people to death in their homes and murdering parents in front of their kids. There are also numerous credible reports of other forms of torture, often prolonged, that have been hard to miss. A few of the many examples below:

Sky News have shown viewers x-ray footage of corpses where pelvic bones have been shattered, where people have been killed execution style with their hands tied behind their back, “He was shot, he was stabbed, he was burned and then he was ran over” explains the pathologist.

One particularly harrowing report from Sky News — one of the first major news crews to enter the kibbutz — is again a must watch for those genuinely interested in what happened that day.

“We saw women with no clothes and hands tied to the back.. I saw families with hands tied to the back, parents and children, sitting one against the other, tortured.” — Yossi Landau from Zaka speaking to Sky News. Zaka are a civilian volunteer emergency response unit. Landau has spent 33 years traversing the globe providing humanitarian relief after disasters. Landau and other Zaka volunteers (some of whom have since checked into psychiatric hospitals after what they witnessed whilst another witness committed suicide within 7 days) explained that there was very little evidence of torture at the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre but by the time they arrived at kibbutzim in Be’eeri and Kfar Aza, when the killers realised they had as much time as they wanted, many of the murdered residents of the kibbutzim were tortured.

Subsequent further testimony from Zaka includes, “A couple… father and mother, sitting on their knees on the floor, hands tied to the back. On the other side of the dining room, a seven year old boy and girl, I would say 6 years old, sitting against their parents hands tied behind their back. Same position. The bodies were tortured.” Landau speculates the obvious, “Who was tortured first? If this was the children looking at the parents being tortured or the parents seeing. And when I say tortured I (mean) missing body pieces. An eye. Just taken out. Fingers being…” He breaks down in tears. “And by the end they all had a bullet.” He then goes onto detail how the killers then sat down at the table in the middle of the room and ate the Shabbos meal that the family had prepared for that day. Whether it was during or after the torture and killings isn’t known.

Away from Sky News there are numerous other reports from reputable sources that detail evidence of torture that I won’t go into for sake of brevity. There are also several widely circulated videos of women in Hamas pick up trucks (Owen refers to one of these videos) where the women show signs of being blood-soaked and beaten with bones snapped. This is clear evidence of torture, as are the many corpses blackened with bruises and gashes that are freely available. Yet all we get from Owen Jones is, “If there was torture too, there was no evidence given for it on camera.”



When Owen moves on to the subject of sexual violence he says, “A clip of an Israel woman inspecting a badly burned woman’s corpse to see if she was a relative, she had no underwear, this has been offered as evidence of rape but that’s not what you would consider conclusive evidence.”

Who has offered this as evidence as rape? The Israeli state? Journalists? Who? I asked Owen directly on Twitter and he responded that he’d seen it referred to as such.

However, what isn’t said in this video is just important as what is said. Owen doesn’t say that it isn’t the only evidence of sexual violence during the massacre. The fact is there is other publicly available footage such as pictures of a dead naked Jewish woman in a Hamas vehicle with her limbs contorted in unnatural positions (which isn’t deemed worthy of a mention). There is also the widely seen harrowing footage of a young Israeli woman who has been driven into Gaza. Her hands are tied behind her back. She is being transferred at gunpoint from the boot of a Jeep into the backseat whilst onlookers cheer in jubilation. Her genital area is soaked in blood. Again, not conclusive evidence but something one may think worth mentioning if you’re a journalist solely motivated by injustice who at this moment is concerned with whether sexual abuse of young Jewish women really did take place. Report after report describes dead Israeli women with no clothes on just like in the footage Owen has watched, yet he neglects to speculate on why any woman would have her underwear removed before being murdered.

“If there was rape and sexual violence committed we don’t see this in the footage either,” he continues. The question of whether it would be ethical or advisable to release what would basically amount to a rape snuff film — if one exists — isn’t dissected. (Did I really have to just say that? Yes. Yes I did) Whether the families would allow it isn’t touched upon. Nor is the fact that this would be the last sort of footage that Hamas would want to film or release itself, plus many of the perpetrators presumably have wives and families at home.

His viewers know that when “we were told” by unnamed sources that 40 babies were beheaded, it is a dubious and most likely false allegation. So why not the rapes as well? After all this inconclusive footage “has been offered as evidence of rape” by sources he also doesn’t name.

Again, there are numerous credible reports of rape from eye-witnesses who told their story after the massacre. It is conceivable I suppose that survivors were immediately coached by the evil Israeli state to fabricate such claims whilst in an unimaginably traumatised state but it is highly unlikely. Just as it’s conceivable that every single piece of testimony about torture and deliberate child murder told through tears may be fake even though it stretches credulity beyond breaking point.

In fact, 24 hours before Owen’s video was released, a report from an Israeli NGO was published. Collated here is much of the horrific eye-witness testimony including multiple accounts of women being raped and then shot. I won’t dwell too much on it but two out the dozens of accounts are below:

-“The paramedic stated that he had seen a girl lying on the floor of the house: “She was lying on her stomach, half-naked, her legs spread open (sic)., Someone executed her after brutally raping her.”13

A woman who detailed the group rape and murder of a young woman by assailants dressed in military uniforms: “They bent some woman over, I realized he was raping her and passing her on to another man in uniform.” She later noted that one of the rapists shot the woman in the head and then mutilated her body.

Much of the testimony here has been publicly available for some time, even the UN has spoken out about it and it was reported on by other NGO’s. You’d think a responsible justice-seeking journalist who was going to discuss the act of rape on 7th Oct would refer to this and/or signpost his viewers to it. On a personal note I find this the most deplorable and unforgivable aspect of the video. There is simply no justification for these kinds of omissions when discussing a crime of this magnitude. Owen Jones is Britain’s leading left-wing commentator with a very large audience including 1 million Twitter followers. This stuff matters.

NB: A, shall we say, timely opinion piece into denial of sexual violence on 7th Oct has been published today in The Guardian.

Child Murder

“We don’t see children being killed on camera” He says they were shown video of dead children “but its not clear if they were intentionally targeted by Hamas. That’s not to say none of this happened, it’s just not in the footage…maybe Hamas didn’t film such atrocities or didn’t release it. Ok, but do you also remember that the footage includes extensive CCTV and car dashcam footage?”

See, there. If they’d have done that, surely it would have been on film? Again. A clear implication that if Israel had footage of child murder they’d show it. I mean, if you were the parent of a murdered child would you want their snuff film to be poured over and examined by strangers in foreign lands? Who can say.

As referred to above, the first responders from Zaka explain they found children tied up with clear evidence of torture who were subsequently killed. There is overwhelming evidence of deliberate child murder which wasn’t deemed worth of even a passing reference. There is the BBC investigation into how Hamas trained for years to do this. How they mocked up fake kibbutzim and practiced killing everyone, even telling their commanders on radio comms, “we have completed killing everyone on the Kibbutz.” Their initial orders were, “Go in and kill those Jewish pigs. Cut off their heads.” We know from report after report on major news channels that children’s bedrooms were found covered in blood, including babies cribs, there is video. There is no doubt whatsoever that children were deliberately killed and to imply anything else is indefensible. The children were slaughtered in their homes, in their bedrooms; several of them were horrifically burned alive, while others were brutally murdered in the presence of their parents. Their names and faces can be found here.

In fact, this vivid description of someone else who watched the same footage — and who wasn’t there to pick holes in it — describes how they were told that the families of the murdered children understandably asked the editor for it not be shown. And what is the other explanation? That the Israeli army killed all the kids by accident? What else is there? And, as night follows day, that possibility is explored by Owen in unsurprisingly extensive detail in the next part of the video.


“At the Nova Music Festival you see defenceless revellers targeted whilst some Hamas gunmen urge bullets to be saved for soldiers… (sic) so there is clearly some distinction to be made between civilians and soldiers in the footage selected by Israel out of 1000’s of hours of footage that we don’t see… how much this distinction was made we can’t ascertain.”

Why the Israeli state would want viewers to see that there was at least occasionally some distinction being made is clearly a question that does not align with the message of this video. And what Owen doesn’t say is that this long-planned massacre didn’t originally expect the music festival to be there, how could they have known so far in advance? The fighters were also understandably expecting greater resistance from the IDF. Multiple reports (along with simple common sense) explain how Hamas fighters realised that by the time they got to their intended target they had as much time to do whatever they wanted and that’s exactly what they did. Again, all vital context completely omitted from the video.

There is also two minutes given over to pouring doubt on the veracity of sadistic Hamas voice recordings. Expert sources are referred to here because there was some doubt over one voice recording that Israel released. This is heavily contested but it’s interesting to note that in this video, experts are worth pointing to only when Israeli claims can be contested. This is one of Owen’s many sleights of hand.

He says that “We don’t know how all the 900 civilians were killed that day”

“We know that some of the most shocking initial pictures we saw… were bodies which were burnt beyond any recognition but many burned bodies which were believed to be civilians turned out to be Hamas fighters, 200 of them.”

He then plays a clip of Israeli spokesman Mark Regev explaining that once Israel has identified the corpses and remains, the Israeli government then revised the Israeli death toll down to 1200 from 1400. (300 victims were soldiers). It also took some time to ascertain how many had been taken hostage and how many had been killed.

He says we don’t know how Hamas fighters were burnt. Well, we know there was gunfights fought in a residential area where some Hamas fighters could have retreating indoors. As far as the civilians go, we know that each house had a safe-room and if the family hid in there and Hamas couldn’t get in, they set the buildings on fire until either the residents, including children, ran out into a hail of bullets or were burned alive.

Again, this absolutely nothing to do with the footage, or it’s just as relevant as the myriad of other reports and sources that directly answer the Questions he’s Just Asking. But in this video only the former is in play.

Owen does attempt to answer this himself at one point. He explains that to not challenge contested claims would “require suspension of the most basic journalistic practices.” The irony of saying that whilst omitting the library of other evidence is presumably lost only on his more gullible viewers.

He again urges that “we need to know how many (Israelis) were killed by reckless firing.”

Why? What difference would it make?


As unrealistic as opposing any Israeli response whatsoever to this unconscionable massacre is (as Owen has done from the beginning) that position is still not incumbent on trawling through the minutia of what happened on 7th Oct, let alone picking holes in it. However the call for it in within some progressive circles has been visceral - which tells a story in itself. In fact, his video about the Hamas massacre footage has been watched more than any other video he has made about the war, currently clocking in at nearly half a million views. A previous video entitled GAZA: A SLAUGHTER WITHOUT END has a mere 16k views.


The denial and minimisation of the massacre on 7th Oct is a phenomenon. Article after article shedding doubt on every aspect of the carnage has made for viral content. In fairness this doesn’t just happen on the Israeli side. Harrowing photos and videos circulate regularly from conflicts elsewhere in the world and are passed off as happening now in Gaza — usually from the devastated ruins of Aleppo in 2016. People on social media highlight this to prove that the devastation is being exaggerated. People do this, just as they do this with the massacre on 7th Oct. Owen Jones, in making this video, has given a prime cut to the latter camp.

Oh there is plausible deniability, there is repeated condemnation of Hamas, horror at what he’s seen in the footage — all of which I believe are heartfelt. But what is the point of the video? The overarching point is that 07/10 doesn’t justify Israel’s response. That the Israeli state is using the footage to justify the assault and allowing friendly journalists to see it in order for them to continue backing Israel’s actions. Both legitimate things to oppose and very obvious arguments for the left to make. The rub is that the footage is irrelevant to that end. We already know enough about what happened without seeing the footage, a decent portion of it is already in the public domain. We have freely available videos, testimony after testimony from credible sources, NGO’s, reputable journalists and media orgs all of which feature nowhere in this 25 minute video which is supposedly concerned with what really happened that day. In truth, it is more fascinated with extolling the unimpeachable moral rectitude of its presenter and with what can tangibly be discredited or contested about that day.

It’s a masterful exercise in rhetorical tricks, of manipulation topped with a very generous helping of pre-emptive emotional blackmail: if he has to live with some of this “horrific” footage “for the rest of his life” how dare anyone question his intentions and journalistic practices. There must be something wrong with people who do this.

This is not a video even remotely interested with what really happened on 7th Oct. It isn’t really about that. His only video devoted to 7th Oct (which I can find) is conveniently framed solely around selected bodycam/CCTV footage. Thus there is no direct reference to survivor testimony, no signposting viewers in the same way as when the ‘40 beheaded babies’ flashes on screen.

There’s nothing about the reports into sexual violence, no mention of emergency response testimony or that NGO’s have classed 7th October as an act of genocide. Instead much of the 07/10 stuff is given over to pouring doubt on voice recordings, musing on how many Israelis were killed by friendly fire, how many Hamas fighters included in initial Israeli death toll, how Hamas occasionally distinguished between civilians and soldiers, no evidence of deliberate child murder or rape or mass beheadings etc etc.

There are undoubtably wild claims, inaccuracies and unproven things about 7th Oct. But to weigh them up solely against this footage — without properly drawing on the huge amount of other reputable sources and mountain of evidence — is inexcusable. To call it a sleight of hand may be being generous.

A sinister motive is inferred to most decisions taken about the footage. It is strongly suggested twice that this is the worst footage Israel has and that if, for example, deliberate child murder and rape had actually happened Israel would have shown it. In doing so he contradicts his initial passing comment about bereaved families exercising a veto on the footage and does not mention that Israel has repeatedly stated that it has edited some footage to spare the dignity of the victims and their families. In this world it makes no sense why Israel would spare the dignity of their own slaughtered people.

Every demand he makes for evidence or verification is rendered disingenuous by his demonstrated refusal to consider why any reason or piece of evidence might not be available which could hurt his argument. His argument serves his thesis and it is more than reasonable to conclude he walked into that screening to serve only those conclusions.

Hence it is striking how credible media organisations and experts are worth mentioning when discussing the supposedly dubious origins of the voice recordings but entirely absent elsewhere, falling back on “we were told x” by sources unspecified. The child murder and torture of victims was covered extensively by Sky News in particular and yet ignored here. However Sky News reports were worth mentioning in the latter part of the video when discussing the indefensible shooting of Palestinians in the West Bank by the IDF which has nothing to do with the footage. There is no issue with talking about that incredibly brave report by Sky — I’ve done so myself — but again it tells a tale about when Owen does find it imperative to draw on respectable sources (which have nothing to do with the massacre footage) and when he doesn’t.

To borrow some of Owen’s bellicosity, his video is a disgrace. It is an insult to the survivors whose testimony he omits and by proxy everyone who lost friends and relatives that day. It is a myopically focussed, self-serving and hugely irresponsible piece of work that has already delighted unscrupulous operators everywhere.

There are links embedded throughout this piece with reports from reputable news orgs, actual journalists and NGO’s who covered the massacre and interviewed survivors extensively. But that’s only if you have any interest in what actually happened on the 7th October. If you want to say “Well bad things happened BUT…” then watch Owen Jones’ video.

I submit that this is its’ sole purpose.



Marlon Solomon

Actor, drummer and very occasional blogger. Usually chuntering on about antisemitism.