Misconduct of Israeli soldiers in Gaza

In just six months, Israel killed over 33,000 Palestinians in the enclave, the majority of whom are women and children, with exact figures expected to be much higher as thousands remain trapped under the rubble. More than 70,000 Palestinians have also been injured.

Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign, siege and large-scale ground invasion into Gaza following the events of 7 October 2023.

In just six months, Israel killed over 33,000 Palestinians in the enclave, the majority of whom are women and children, with exact figures expected to be much higher as thousands remain trapped under the rubble. More than 70,000 Palestinians have also been injured.

In December, the United Nations reported that 85 per cent of Gaza’s population had been internally displaced. By the end of January, a detailed analysis by the BBC also found that more than half of Gaza’s buildings and civilian infrastructure, including entire residential neighbourhoods, hospitals, universities, and historic sites, have been damaged or destroyed. The scale of destruction of the southern city of Khan Yunis has been particularly significant with half the city’s buildings in ruins, including the iconic Alfarra Tower, the city’s tallest residential building of 16 stories.

"We've done work over Ukraine, we've also looked at Aleppo and other cities, but the extent and the pace of damage is remarkable. I've never seen this much damage appear so quickly," Corey Scher of City University of New York says, having worked on the Gaza damage assessment.

In January, South Africa invoked the Genocide Convention against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the way it has conducted its war on Gaza. The Court has since ruled it ‘plausible’ that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to genocide.

The Israeli army’s misconduct

The Israeli army’s misconduct during its most devastating war on Gaza, reflected in the astonishing death toll and scale of destruction, has attracted widespread condemnation from international observers and human rights organisations.

The evidence, captured in numerous photographs and videos filmed and disseminated by many of the Israeli soldiers themselves on social media platforms, paints a disturbing picture of wanton destruction, looting and disregard for civilian lives, property and dignity.

Under international humanitarian law, which governs the conduct of armed conflict, parties to a conflict are obligated to distinguish between combatants and civilians and to take all feasible precautions to minimise harm to civilians and civilian objects. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, explicitly prohibits the destruction of property, the confiscation of personal belongings and the displacement of civilians except for imperative military reasons. However, the actions of Israeli troops in Gaza as depicted in the videos published by the soldiers reveal a blatant disregard for these principles and clearly contravene these provisions.

In its genocide case against Israel at the ICJ, South Africa’s lawyers played a video of a large group of Israeli soldiers invoking the “Amalek” rhetoric espoused by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as they danced and sang that there are “no uninvolved civilians.”

Several news organisations have since analysed hundreds of videos documenting abuses by Israeli troops in Gaza, including BBC Verify, the New York Times and others. “The dehumanisation from the top is very much sinking down to the soldiers,” Dror Sadot, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, said.

Glaring impunity

For months, the Israeli occupation authorities have failed to adequately address the soldiers' abuses amidst a glaring lack of accountability for those responsible and the principles governing the overall conduct of Israeli troops in Gaza.

In response to mounting criticism and international outcry, the Israeli military announced in February that it was “conducting examinations and investigations of possible misconduct in the context of operational activity.” The military did highlight in its statement, however, that “conducting assessments and investigations of combat situations may be complicated at the moment, and the current fog of war may affect factual assessment capabilities.”

This comes shortly after the Israeli military's highest legal officer, Major-General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, issued a stern and unprecedented warning to troops against “improper conduct”. She highlighted incidents of unjustified use of force, destruction of civilian property and looting as crossing the criminal threshold and causing strategic damage to Israel's reputation on the international stage.

But despite mounting evidence and Israeli pledges to “investigate the circumstances”, the misconduct by Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza persists unabated amidst widespread scepticism that the Israeli military, with its track record of clearing itself of any wrongdoing against Palestinian, would address extensive abuses that are seen as an extension of official Israeli political and media rhetoric on Gaza and the aims of the war.

Viral videos continue to emerge, showcasing Israeli soldiers engaging in derogatory behaviour and destructive actions. The lack of accountability only serves to embolden soldiers to continue their egregious behaviour, further increasing the risk of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and undermining the prospects for peace and stability in the region.


Middle East Monitor has collected and categorised some of the visual evidence disseminated by Israeli soldiers on social media for documentation and reporting purposes.

Concept, research and text: Jehan Alfarra

Videos: Middle East Monitor

Development: MEMO's digital team