One of the most extraordinary survival stories of Israel's 9/11: Video shows ... trends now
Taking out his mobile phone, Hamid Abu Ar'ara wants to show us a short video and then a photograph. It will not make for easy viewing, for any of us.
The film is taken from a traffic camera at a rural T-junction, not far from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. It is 7.05am on the morning of October 7 – or 'Black Saturday' as Hamid and so many other Israelis describes the day.
As the footage begins, a black Hyundai appears from the side road. It stops, dutifully, because four motorcycles are approaching from the left. A fatal mistake.
Each bike carries two men and, as they turn into the road from which the Hyundai has emerged, each pillion passenger rakes the stationary car with automatic gunfire.
We can see the windows dissolve into a haze of glass, bullets bounce off the road. The car has stopped, for ever.
This is the moment Hamas gunmen opened fire on Hamid Abu Ar'ara's car killing is wife on the October 7 terror attacks in Israel. He then endured an epic seven-hour survivial ordeal
Hamid Abu Ar'ara (left), a Bedouin farmer, pictured with his son Elias, aged eight
Fatima's (pictured) murder was only the start of an epic, seven-hour ordeal, as Hamid strove to save himself, their wounded eight-month-old son Elias and another Bedouin
Hamid scrolls further into his phone's picture library and finds another image. It is a photograph of a middle-aged woman. She is wearing a hijab and is covered in blood, slumped lifeless across the steering wheel of the same Hyundai.
Hamid, a tough Bedouin farmer, begins to weep quietly. This is his 'beloved' wife, Fatima, who had been driving him to work, as she did every day, until they met with Hamas.
Fatima's murder was only the start of an epic, seven-hour ordeal, as Hamid strove to save himself, their wounded eight-month-old son Elias and another Bedouin, after they were caught at the very epicentre of the blood-letting.
Theirs is surely one of most extraordinary survival stories to have emerged from the October 7 massacres. But it also serves to throw light on an under-reported aspect of the atrocities; how Hamas gunmen did not hesitate to execute or kidnap fellow Muslims whom they came across during their two-day rampage.
Yesterday, Mail photographer Jamie Wiseman and I travelled to the Negev desert in southern Israel where some 200,000 members of Israel's Bedouin Arab community live in tumbledown towns or villages and more traditional nomadic encampments.
We spoke to Bedouin families whose members were either killed or taken hostage by Hamas. As their tribal culture largely transcends national borders, their people mostly inhabit the physical, economic and social margins of Israeli society. But not marginal enough for Hamas's terrorists.
They hold Israeli citizenship and, while not drafted into the army, like Israeli Jews or Druze, around 1,500 Bedouin volunteers serve with their own light infantry regiment, or as specialist trackers to other IDF units.
Hamid lost his 'beloved' wife, Fatima, who had been driving him to work, as she did every day, until they met with Hamas
Hamid and Fatima had seven sons and two daughters. The youngest is Elias and, at 6.40am on Black Saturday, Fatima drove them – her husband has no licence – from their home in Rahat towards the hothouse tomato business that Hamid ran in Mivtahim, less than five miles from the Gaza boundary.
Two Bedouin farm labourers, a father and a son, were sitting either side of Elias who was in a baby chair on the back seat.
'After the motorcycles passed us, I tried to raise Fatima from where she had fallen. And that is when I saw she had been hit 20 times,' Hamid, 47, recalls. He says the gunmen must have known she was of their own faith.
'We're a religious Muslim family and she wore traditional headdress of a devout woman. It is inconceivable they could not see who was inside. They were five metres away from her as they passed and the window was rolled down.
'She said she could not feel her legs. Her head was open and I could see her brain. I knew she was close to death. Being a devout Muslim, I asked her to say the shahada prayer, which you say before you die. She said it four times and before the fifth time she was dead.
'That was not the end,' says Hamid. 'I got out of the car and opened Fatima's door and closed her eyes. Then I called the police, who answered but said they were being overwhelmed. They said they would get to me as soon as they could.'
The survivors were on their own.
Hamid heard the young labourer who had been sitting behind Fatima calling for help. He had also taken the brunt of the attack.
'We pulled him out of the car and