DDozens of Palestinian men were tied up, blindfolded and stripped naked by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as evidenced by images broadcast on a television channel in that state on Thursday. The authorities intended to determine whether the individuals – including children, teenagers and a journalist – belonged to the Islamic group Hamas, which has already condemned this “heinous crime against innocent civilians”.
A video, which was verified by the BBC and the Reuters agency, portrayed dozens of men kneeling on the ground, tied up and in their underwear, under the surveillance of Israeli soldiers, in Gaza. Another photograph showed more men, also half-naked, in the back of a van. In another image, not yet verified, men appeared blindfolded and kneeling on top of a pile of sand.
According to Al Jazeera, many of the individuals were recognized by members of the community, who assured that they had no links to the Islamic group.
Among them was, according to the BBC, Palestinian journalist Diaa al-Kahlout, correspondent for the newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed. The media reported that al-Kahlout was detained with his brothers, family and “other civilians” by Israeli forces, in Beit Lahia. There, the IDF allegedly forced the men to undress, before subjecting them “to invasive searches and humiliating treatments”. The detainees were then transported to “undisclosed locations”.
Israel arrests, abuses dozens of Palestinian civilians at UNRWA-run schools in northern Gaza https://t.co/GlarUdU3mN
— Euro-Med Monitor (@EuroMedHR) December 7, 2023
Asked about the images, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy pointed out that the men were detained in Jabalia and Shejaia, where Hamas activity is concentrated.
“We are talking about men of military age who were discovered in areas that civilians should have left weeks ago,” he said, quoted by the BBC.
The official detailed that the men would be interrogated to “find out who really was a Hamas terrorist and who wasn’t”.
Children, UN workers and a journalist are believed to be seen in a video showing dozens of Palestinians stripped and detained by Israeli forces in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/MECCmCgnMI
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) December 8, 2023
Although the IDF has not directly commented on the images, spokesman Daniel Hagari reported on Thursday that its forces “detained and interrogated hundreds of suspected terrorists”.
“Many of them also surrendered to our forces during the last 24 hours. The information resulting from their interrogations is used to continue the fighting”, he added.
A senior Hamas official, Izzat El-Reshiq, urged international human rights organizations to intervene, not only to address this “heinous crime against civilians” but also to help free those detained. According to the BBC, some have already been released.
“We urge human rights organizations to intervene immediately to expose this heinous crime against innocent civilians who took refuge in a school, which became a shelter due to Zionist attacks and massacres, and to exert pressure by all means to secure their release.” , he said, cited by Reuters.
For his part, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Husam Zomlot, considered that the images evoke “some of the darkest periods in the history of humanity”.
“The Israeli media did not show the mass murder of Palestinian children and innocent civilians, nor the mass destruction of Gaza. But he has no qualms about showing these savage images of the Israeli occupation forces detaining and stripping civilians taken from a UN shelter in Gaza”, he accused, on the social network X (Twitter), where he called for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire ”.
Israel media did not show the mass murder of Palestinian children and innocent civilians, or the mass destruction of Gaza. But Israeli media has no qualms about showing these savage images of Israeli occupation forces detaining and stripping civilians taken from a UN shelter in… pic.twitter.com/XCQtullKCU
— Husam Zomlot (@hzomlot) December 7, 2023
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor also reported on these “arbitrary and random” arrests, detailing that they occurred after Israeli forces had surrounded two shelters in Beit Lahiya for two days.
“The Israeli army detained and seriously abused dozens of Palestinian civilians in the north of the Gaza Strip. […] Euro-Med Monitor has received reports that Israeli forces have launched random and arbitrary detention campaigns against displaced people, including doctors, academics, journalists and elderly men, at Khalifa Bin Zayed and New Aleppo schools, both affiliated with the United Nations Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA),” the organization said in a statement.
After Hamas’ surprise attack on Israeli territory, called ‘Al-Aqsa Storm’, Israel bombed from the air several installations of that armed group in the Gaza Strip, in an operation it called ‘Iron Swords’.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is “at war” with Hamas, a group considered terrorist by Israel, the United States and the European Union (EU), having agreed with the opposition to create an emergency government national and a war cabinet.
Read Also: Hamas calls on the UN to end “brutal war” in Gaza
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