Unprecedented Project: Memorializing the Hamas Attack Through WhatsApps

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Yaniv Hegyi, a survivor from kibbutz Beeri, the hardest-hit community in the October 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, is spearheading an innovative initiative named “Memorial 710.” The project aims to compile WhatsApp messages, images, and videos from that tragic day, creating a detailed archive of the attack’s every second. Beeri, with a population of 1,100, lost over 80 residents in the assault, making it one of the most severely affected communities.

Terrifying Pleas for Help: WhatsApps Detail Moments of Terror

As the rural community faced the onslaught, terrified residents sought refuge in their safe rooms, relying on their mobiles for information and communication. Messages sent during the attack reveal increasingly desperate pleas for help, with some individuals sending selfies just minutes before their tragic demise. One poignant message Hegyi shared read, “Where’s the army? They’re breaking into our home!” The urgency and fear depicted in these WhatsApps underscore the gravity of the situation.

Historical Record: Survivor-Led Project Seeks Truth Amidst Tragedy

Yaniv Hegyi envisions an interactive map documenting the entire area invaded by militants, allowing researchers to access WhatsApp messages, photos, and videos from specific locations. This comprehensive archive would provide a detailed account of the attack, allowing users to understand the events on a personal level. The project emphasizes the importance of preserving an accurate historical record, particularly in the face of challenges in narrative accuracy and conflicting claims.

Personal Narratives: Excruciatingly Personal Testimonies Through WhatsApp

Survivors of the Beeri attacks are voluntarily contributing to “Memorial 710,” recognizing the importance of real-time documentation. The WhatsApp messages, being intensely personal and excruciatingly immediate, offer an authentic account of the events. Raquel Ukeles, head of collections at Israel’s National Library, emphasizes the extraordinary value of such messages for researchers, not only aiding in recounting and analyzing events but also defending historical accuracy against potential denial and false claims.

Overcoming Challenges: Technology, Privacy, and Healing

The project faces technological challenges in effectively storing messages, images, and videos while respecting privacy and confidentiality. Convincing survivors to share deeply personal and painful messages is also a delicate task. However, the act of participating in the project becomes a proactive step for survivors, freeing them from the sense of powerlessness experienced inside the safe rooms. As the initiative gains momentum, “Memorial 710” seeks to ensure that these crucial messages are not lost and contribute to a lasting record of the tragic events of October 7.

SOURCE: Ref Image from the Straits Times

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