Marlon Solomon
13 min readDec 7, 2023


Legitimising Denial

When the perpetrators of an unconscionable massacre film much of it it, live broadcast it, some of it was caught on CCTV, there are corroborative eye-witness testimonies from survivors, emergency first responders, medical reports, much of which is corroborated by major news organisations who visited medical facilities where the slain were being identified — it’s very hard to cast doubt on its severity. It’s even harder to do that whilst saying you are doing the exact opposite.

Anyway, in related news, last week Owen Jones released a video on his channel where he analysed footage of the massacre on 7th Oct. It was an Israeli screening for invited journalists and interested parties.

There is undoubtably a place for someone to do what Owen Jones claims to have done in his YouTube video. After all, it was a private screening and everyone was talking about the footage but no one had seen it. So to analyse it and objectively describe what they did and didn’t see is a legitimate endeavour. Unpalatable as it may be for some, the footage should be able to be interrogated (even dispassionately) in order for it to be examined as to where it falls short of the rhetoric Israel is using to prosecute the war ie: likening Hamas to ISIS. The politics of the screening is also there to be critiqued. These screenings are political in nature.

This is his Owen Jones’ right and any honest broker should be able to do that without being monstered for denial in the way that Jones has been. However, what he claims to have done in the video and what he actually did in the video are two different things.

Since I dissected his video in detail I have interviewed two people who have watched the same footage and read multiple reports from other viewers. It is now abundantly clear that Owen Jones set out to minimise the atrocity on the 7th Oct by needlessly casting doubt on various aspects of it. He did this not only by omitting evidence for various claims about the massacre that exist outside the footage but also by giving very generous interpretations of parts of the footage itself. All of which favour the perpetrators of the massacre.

For example, on the nature of the footage, he contradicts his initial comment that bereaved families had a veto on the footage that “must be respected”. But then on two subsequent occasions — when discussing whether Hamas tortured people or deliberately murdered children — he disrespects those same wishes by speculating that this selection is the worst Israel has out of the 1000’s of hours they claim to have. So if Israel had video evidence of these dreadful crimes then they would surely show it in the footage. Why would somebody plant that seed in their viewers minds when they self-evidently know it to be an entirely false premise?

Why, if he’s bringing claims from outside the footage (such as the 40 beheaded babies claim that Israel did not make), does he only bring claims that cast doubt on aspects of the massacre but doesn’t draw from the well of evidence outside the footage that substantiate the same claims? He does this with the charge of the deliberate murder of children, torture, burning people and rape. All of the most heinous charges excluding “mass” beheading for which there is scanter evidence (that we know of).

On deliberate child murder, torture and burning people alive: the evidence already in the public domain that these crimes happened is so overwhelming yet Jones leaves open the possibility in his viewers mind that each one might not have happened at all by ignoring all said evidence. For example, he plants a seed that “the most shocking initial pictures we saw” of charred bodies could have been Hamas soldiers. He plays a clip of Israeli diplomat Mark Regev revising the death toll to exclude Hamas fighters once they had identified the remains.

But he does not draw from the obvious eg: how when Hamas entered properties in the kibbutzim, Israeli civilians naturally retreated to their safe rooms. If Hamas fighters could not get into the safe rooms, they set the house on fire. Israelis then had the choice to burn to death or run outside into a hail of bullets. This included children. We know this from all the on-the-spot testimony and the miraculous survival of several Israelis who chose to remain in their safe rooms. So why wouldn’t someone explain that if they were being truly objective? There is footage still in the public domain broadcast by Hamas of a smouldering Israeli body (who appears to be decapitated) on the roadside of the festival, testimony of piles of bodies being burnt and people set on fire in their cars. He mentions none of this.

Instead Jones hints to his viewers that the most “shocking thing” they saw might have been committed by the Israelis themselves. Why would he do that when incinerated Israeli civilians are still being identified two months on from the massacre?

Even on differentiation: there is a section of the video where you see a Hamas fighter saying to another ‘save bullets for soldiers’. Jones says “so we know that that there was some distinction between civilians and soldiers. How much distinction there was we can’t ascertain.” What Jones doesn’t say was that many corpses were found stabbed to death, mutilated or with faces caved in (some of which is in the footage itself), and there are news reports from morgues showing the scale of injuries inflicted by hand weapons. Whilst Jones speculates on all sorts of things that cast doubt on claims that the footage doesn’t purport to prove, he neglects to speculate that ‘save bullets for soldiers’ most likely meant ‘use knives and clubs where possible not guns’ and not evidence of the worth of civilian life. This would be a tactical decision not a moral one as Hamas were understandably expecting far greater resistance from the IDF. Thus it would not be worth mentioning at all except Jones brings it up only to infer it to be a moral decision and its fair to ask why that is?

Take this account of the footage:

CCTV footage in a kindergarten. A lone teacher hiding in a room, trying to use kid nap pads to hide. Hamas terrorists enter, searching rooms, looks into her room & fires at her. Terrorist enter the room, makes sure she is dead, puts her on his shoulder and carries her away.

Tens of Israeli teenagers hiding in a large dumpster of black trash bags. A few seconds later a first responder video of just dead bodies in the dumpster.

First responders arriving to the festival, calling out as they get to a food/bar tent “I have 1 dead, 2..3,4,5 dead” “is anyone alive?” “please let me know if you are alive,” only to then look over the bar counter to see tens of civilians bodies laying on top of each other.

Does that sound to you like there was a distinction being made between soldiers and civilians? Also bear in mind that the military didn’t arrive on the scene until much later. Why would someone omit this essential context whilst giving the murderers the benefit of the doubt? In fact, out of the all the mountain of testimony from eye-witness survivors there are less than a handful of reports of the deliberate sparing of life outside of hostage taking.

But there was one instance of this in the footage which Jones chose to dwell on — which he says was the most traumatising moment of the screening. A father and two brothers hide in a shed, a Hamas fighter nonchalantly throws a grenade in and kills the father. the two boys run out into the house, one is blinded, questioning why they are still alive. The Hamas fighter takes a drink from the fridge. The boys survived. Jones goes on to say there is no evidence of deliberate murder of children in the footage even though he mentioned that you see stills of of dead children with their faces blurred, it’s just that “We don’t see children being killed on camera.”

He continues: “We see photos of dead bodies of children, with their faces blurred, again horrible enough to see. If they had been intentionally targeted by Hamas that’s not in the footage, on the other hand you do see a family dog shot dead. That’s not to say none of this happened. It’s just not in the footage which has been provided by the Israeli authorities. Maybe Hamas didn’t film such atrocities. Ok, but then do you remember that the footage is also taken from Israeli dashcam and CCTV footage?”

He neglects to say that at least 36 children were murdered at the kibbutzim that day. While he does stress “that’s not to say none of this happened, it’s just not in the footage.” The question is why dead children covered in blood, stills of blood-splattered children’s bedrooms (also in the footage and in the public domain but not mentioned is his video) still leaves room to say ‘if’ they were intentionally targeted by Hamas. As is asking why he’s speculating that if Israel had such footage, they’d show it when he knows this to be a false premise?

It’s worth dwelling on the ‘if’. If these children had been deliberately killed by Hamas and asking what the other explanation is? They killed 36 children by accident? The Israelis did it by mistake?

And that’s not to mention the evidence outside the footage such as eye-witness testimony and the child death toll itself. Would your takeaway be that you haven’t seen conclusive evidence of deliberate child murder?

So on the one hand we have a library full of evidence that children were deliberately killed. Just take the filmed testimony from a 14 year old survivor explaining how she comforted a little boy who had just seen his mother shot whilst cradling his ten month-old baby sister who was shot in her arms.

On the other hand, we have Britain’s leading left-wing commentator saying if it happened I didn’t see it and if Israel had video evidence they would have showed it to me.

Again, would you expect an honest broker to say that we don’t see torture or children being killed on camera. While we are shown photos of dead children its not clear if they were intentionally targeted by Hamas. Now that’s not to say it didn’t happen, Hamas might not have filmed it, ok but then do you remember that the footage is also taken from Israeli dashcam and CCTV footage?

Or would you expect them to say something like, “I didn’t see torture or deliberate child murder in the footage, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen but there are major clues that it did. Plus there’s pics of the murdered children, blood soaked cribs and kids rooms, the contorted dead bodies with limbs bent etc?”

Why did Owen Jones choose the former method and do with so with every single contested claim about the massacre?

Is that what a denialist or a conspiracy theorist would do? I contend that it is.

There is no question that a few Israelis were killed by reckless firing, it has been reported in the Israeli press. In kibbutzim the size of small towns enduring the most terrible gunfight after an unspeakable massacre of civilians this might barely be worth mentioning except for Jones who is at pains to say that “we don’t know how all the 900 civilians were killed that day.” He also stresses that “we need to know how many (Israelis) were killed by reckless firing.” Why is that? Current estimates are around 14 but if was 20, 30 or even 50, what difference would it make to the crimes Hamas committed?

There is also ample evidence of torture in the accounts of first responders (these include whole families tied up and burnt, an eye gouged out, fingers removed, broken bones) and various other medical reports which were corroborated by major news orgs who visited the morgue. There is also the footage itself which shows bludgeoned people and those with broken limbs.

There would be some recourse to say ‘well maybe Jones didn’t know about all the evidence outside the footage’ but he admits in his video to having seen half the material previous to the screening because “it’s already in the public domain.” This is true (I’ve seen some myself) but this points strongly to someone who has conducted extensive research of the massacre before attending the screening. This - coupled with the fact that he has been commenting on the war on TV/printed media/social media and his Youtube channel virtually everyday for the last two months — puts his wider knowledge of the massacre beyond reasonable doubt.

Since Jones released his video, now watched by nearly half a million people, most of the criticism has centred on how he dealt with the claim that Hamas fighters raped Israeli women. Whilst claims of ‘rape denial’ are wide of the mark it’s still worth dwelling on what he did and didn’t say about it.

The most viewed piece of video from the massacre is almost certainly the woman in the Jeep. It is the horrifying clip 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. This video is apparently also in the footage but if it was, Jones doesn’t mention it.

All Jones says in regards to evidence of rape in the footage is that, “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.”

The question of who has offered this as evidence of rape he responded to on Twitter to say “he’d seen repeatedly seen it referred to as such.” The truth is no one has offered this one piece of evidence as conclusive evidence of rape. It has been offered as one piece of evidence but is supported by other evidence which includes: the woman in the Jeep, the other murdered women found with their lower half exposed, multiple corroborative eye-witness and first responder testimonies and there is also the photo which has been viral since 07/10 of the murdered semi-naked young woman in the back of a pick up truck with a group of Hamas fighters. One has his boot on her body, her leg has been snapped into an unnatural position. And with all the speculation that Jones did in his video do you think it might be worth speculating on why murdered Jewish women were found naked?

If someone was merely explaining what they saw in the footage and weighing it up against various claims about the massacre as Jones claims he’s doing because to not do, “would be an abdication of the most basic principles of journalism.” Would they say, “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.”

Or would they say something like, “…she had no underwear, this has been offered as evidence of rape but that’s not what you would consider conclusive evidence but it hints strongly at it plus there is the woman in the Jeep and the mountain of eye-witness testimony etc” Why doesn’t he do that?

An account of evidence of sexual violence from someone who attended a screening in the US: Rape & targeting of the young women at the festival. 1st a video of a group of more than 5 teenage girls scared, shaking huddled together in a tent. Hamas terrorist enters the tent. All girls handcuffed walked out of the tent now all bloodied faces. Some put in different vehicles. One girl from the original huddle, from the line walked out, separated and put into a jeep. Later same girl moved, pants covered in blood just around anus to front of pants. More photos of dead teenage women laying in the field of the festival, no pants, legs appear broken.

Those women’s last moments are unimaginable. I won’t repeat some of the eye-witness testimony because it is so horrific but it can be found on the BBC News website here.

In response to some of the criticism of his video Jones has predictably responded with outrage. “I condemn war crimes on all sides.” “I called for an investigation into these crimes.” “I didn’t say they didn’t happen.” Which is all true. But predictably he did not respond to any criticism about why he omitted key details and pieces of evidence which directly answer the questions he was asking. There are undoubtably a few inaccuracies and unproven things about 7th Oct but to weigh them up solely against this footage — without drawing once from the well of other reputable sources, other evidence in the footage itself and the mountain of testimony — is inexcusable. To say he whitewashed the massacre is too strong but he certainly applied a good coat of magnolia to it.

Given what Jones chooses to say in his video and by what he chooses not to say, by what details he decides to leave out and what to include, by giving the actions of Hamas the most generous interpretation that stretches the bounds of credulity beyond breaking point - it is more than reasonable to say that he took great effort to minimise the extent of what Hamas did on 07/10 in every conceivable way he thought he could get away with. And he did this whilst pretending to do the exact opposite.

He needlessly cast doubt on aspects of the massacre for which there is overwhelming evidence and, quite incredibly, left open the possibility that the children had not been deliberately killed and Israel burnt all those bodies themselves. He brought in outside claims, experts and sources only when it cast doubt on specific claims and ignored them when they answered the questions he was asking. He did this most notably with the charges of torture, the deliberate murder of children, burning people and the rape of Jewish women. A fair contention is that this was the sole purpose of why he attended the screening.

No amount of condemnation of war crimes “on both sides” or strident opposition to the horrendous and growing death toll in Gaza have any bearing on this charge against him, despite what he may say to the contrary. Neither position is incumbent on doing what he does in the video which is to go out of his way to downplay and minimise a sadistic orgy of violence which took the lives of 1200 people who were nearly all Jewish. It is not a contradictory position to look at the overwhelming evidence that torture, rape and child murder happened and say “well it does look extremely likely to have happened but that still doesn’t justify Israel’s response.” When someone can’t even bring themselves to do that - when it isn’t feasible that they didn’t know about other supporting evidence - it is worth considering why.

It is also worth considering how much airtime and column inches he gets which are so often spent assessing the moral worth of others and considering his own, or lack thereof. His video has been used to legitimise denial by virtually everyone with a vested interest in minimising the massacre’s execution, severity and barbarity. He is yet to answer any of the criticism outline above.



Marlon Solomon

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