At least 100 Palestinian men have been detained by Israeli forces in northern Gaza. They were stripped to their underwear, blindfolded, and made to kneel on a street. Images and videos of the incident were widely circulated on social media and confirmed by the Israeli army. The video, which first surfaced on Thursday, drew condemnation from various quarters.
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fischer reported that the images echoed the history of the region, where stripped men are taken to unknown locations. Many of the detainees were recognized by members of the community and family. Some were students, local store owners, and had no connection with ‘terrorism’. A well-known local journalist was also identified among those who were arrested. One man was with his two children and all three of them were rounded up.
Shawan Jabarin, director of the Al-Haq human rights organization, described the images as inhuman and amounting to torture. He said it was a war crime and a crime against humanity. Israeli media reported that some of the images appeared to show suspected Hamas fighters who had surrendered to Israeli forces.
The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said the men were arbitrarily arrested in the northern Gaza Strip after Israeli forces surrounded two shelters in the town of Beit Lahiya for days. They were taken from the Khalifa bin Zayed and New Aleppo schools, both of which are affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari was asked about the video but didn’t address it directly. Another Israeli spokesperson said they had no idea where the video came from. Ahmed Bedier, president of United Voices for America civic engagement group, called the images “horrific”. He said it was a way to humiliate and a psychological warfare designed to break the Palestinian people.
According to Fischer, many of the men who were apprehended in and around Beit Lahiya gave themselves up, were suspected of “terrorism” and were being taken to a facility in Israel to be interrogated. Around another 100 men were detained and taken to a special interrogation facility that has been set up in Gaza.
The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news outlet said its correspondent Diaa Al-Kahlout was among those detained and had been taken to an unknown location. He, his brothers, and other relatives were among dozens of men arrested. The outlet called on the international community, journalists’ rights defenders and watchdogs, and human rights bodies to denounce the assault committed by the Israeli occupation army against journalists and to ensure their release from detention and protection.
The Palestinian armed group Hamas condemned the stripping of the men and called on international human rights groups to investigate the incident. A Hamas official said the stripping of the men was a blatant Zionist crime. International aid groups and human rights organizations were concerned about the treatment of the detainees and their whereabouts.
The images and videos were taken from the vantage point of Israeli troops. One clip shows dozens of men sitting cross-legged in rows with their heads bowed in the middle of a wide street. Another photo shows detainees being lined up in an empty field. The last video appears to show detainees packed into the back of moving army trucks.
Israel said it has detained and interrogated hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank since Hamas’s October 7 attacks in southern Israel. Those attacks prompted Israel to start a massive air and ground offensive on the enclave. More than 17,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the authorities in the enclave. Israel said its death toll stands at about 1,150.
World, Politics, Human Interest