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Behaviour of Israel soldiers in Gaza ‘crossed criminal threshold’: Army’s top lawyer

February 21, 2024 at 7:34 pm

A view of new technology gears and weapons used by Israeli forces on Palestinians in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 February, 2024 [Israel Defence Forces (IDF)/Anadolu Agency]

The conduct of Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip has “crossed the criminal threshold”, the military’s highest legal officer said Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

”We have encountered cases of unacceptable conduct that deviate from IDF (army) values and protocols,” Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said in a letter issued to the army.

She said some of these cases ”crossed the criminal threshold” and are “being investigated”.

Tomer-Yerushalmi cited “inappropriate statements that encourage unacceptable actions and operationally unjustifiable use of force, including against detainees” among the criminal behaviour of Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

She said Israeli soldiers committed ”looting, non-operational use or removal of private property and destruction of civilian property in violation of orders.”

”Following the investigations into these acts, the military prosecution would decide what measures to be taken against the suspects,” Tomer-Yerushalmi said.

Since the outbreak of the Gaza war, Israeli soldiers have been posting videos documenting acts of looting, burning and destruction of homes, assaulting detainees and writing hate graffiti on walls of houses.

The Israeli army has not announced measures against soldiers, only saying that their actions “contravene the army’s values”.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a Hamas attack on 7 October, killing 29,313 Palestinians and injuring more than 69,000 others with mass destruction and shortages of necessities, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85 per cent of the Territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: IDF Chief urges Israel army not to film ‘revenge videos’ amidst genocide case at ICJ