Videos of Israeli soldiers derogatory behavior in Gaza spark outrage

AP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Dec 2023

Israeli occupation soldiers rummaging through private homes in Gaza. Forces destroying plastic figurines in a toy store or trying to burn food and water supplies that are scarce in the Strip. Troops with their arms slung around each other, chanting racist slogans as they dance in a circle.

This image made from an undated video shared on X, shows Israeli Army troops with their arms slung around each other, chanting racist slogans as they dance in a circle, in Gaza. AP


Several viral videos and photos of Israeli soldiers behaving in a derogatory manner in Gaza have emerged in recent days, creating a headache for the Israeli occupation army as it faces an international outcry over its tactics and the rising civilian death toll in its war against Gaza.

Such videos are not a new or unique phenomenon. Over the years, Israeli soldiers — and members of the U.S. and other militaries — have been caught on camera acting inappropriately or maliciously in conflict zones.

But critics say the new videos, largely shrugged off in Israel, reflect a national Israeli mood that has little empathy for the plight of Gaza's civilians.

“The dehumanization from the top is very much sinking to the soldiers,” said Dror Sadot, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which has long documented Israeli abuses against Palestinians.

Israel has killed more than 18,400 Palestinians in Gaza, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. About 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory.

The videos seem to have been uploaded by soldiers themselves during their time in Gaza.

In one, a soldier has moved Muslim prayer rugs into a bathroom. In another, a soldier films boxes of lingerie found in a Gaza home. Yet another shows a soldier trying to set fire to food and water supplies that are scarce in Gaza.

In a photo, an Israeli soldier sits in front of a room under the graffiti “Khan Younis Rabbinical Court.” 

In another photo, a soldier poses next to words spray-painted in red on a pink building that read, “Instead of erasing graffiti, let’s erase Gaza.”

A video posted by conservative Israeli media personality Yinon Magal on X, formerly Twitter, shows dozens of soldiers dancing in a circle, apparently in Gaza, and singing a song that includes the words, “Gaza we have come to conquer. … We know our slogan – there are no people who are uninvolved.” 

The video, which Magal took from Facebook, has been viewed almost 200,000 times on his account and widely shared on other accounts.

Magal said he did not know the soldiers involved. However, the AP has verified backgrounds, uniforms and language heard in the videos and found them to be consistent with independent reporting.

The video is based on the fight song of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, whose hard-core fans have a history of racist chants against Arabs and rowdy behaviour.

Other videos have surfaced, including the ransacking of the toy store, apparently in the northern area of Jebaliya, in which a soldier smashes toys and decapitates a plastic figurine.

Osama Hamdan, a top Hamas official, aired the video of the soldier in the toy shop at a news conference in Beirut. He called the footage “disgusting.”

On Sunday, the Israeli military's spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, condemned some of the actions seen in the recent videos. "In any event that does not align with Israeli army values, command and disciplinary steps will be taken,” he said.

The videos emerged just days after leaked photos and video of detained Palestinians in Gaza, stripped to their underwear, in some cases blindfolded and handcuffed, also drew international attention. The occupation army claims it did not release those images, but Hagari claimed this week that soldiers have undressed Palestinian detainees to ensure they are not wearing explosive vests.

Short link: