France to prosecute French-Israeli soldiers committing war crimes in Gaza

France to prosecute French-Israeli soldiers committing war crimes in Gaza
France announced that any French-Israeli citizen engaged in war crimes in Gaza will face prosecution, after videos of soldiers abusing Palestinians appeared.
3 min read
30 March, 2024
Left-wing lawmaker Thomas Portes has led the charge in France against the crimes of French-Israeli soldiers in Gaza [Getty]

The French Foreign Ministry announced last week that French-Israeli soldiers implicated in war crimes in Gaza will face legal action, Haaretz has reported.

The announcement, which has not been widely reported, follows pressure from the left-wing France Unbowed party, after the release of videos on social media of Israeli soldiers engaged in violations against Palestinian captives.

In one 45-second video, five Israeli soldiers are shown surrounding blindfolded Palestinian captives, whose hands are tied, and all of whom are wearing matching white coveralls.

The person filming taunts the detainees in French, stating, “Did you see those motherf***ers, my nephew, those sons of bitches?” Amid chuckles, he proceeds, “Look, he’s p***ed himself. I’ll show you his back. It’ll make you laugh – they tortured him to make him talk. Did you see his back?” The next segment of the video then displays the captive’s scarred back.

The video first appeared in a WhatsApp group for French Jews.

Palestinian journalist Younis Tirawi, who had infiltrated the group, suspected the uploader was also the person who made the video. Last week, to his 115,000 X followers, he revealed the alleged soldier's identity, known as "S.,", sharing conversations that purportedly confirm the identity "of this perpetrator".

Following these accusations, Thomas Portes, of the left-wing France Unbowed party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, alerted both the Paris public prosecutor’s office and the national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office, presenting the video as proof of “complicity in war crimes and acts of torture” in Gaza by French-Israeli dual nationals.

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In response to pressure from multiple lawmakers in Mélenchon's party, the French Foreign Ministry held a press conference last week, during which it issued a statement reaffirming France’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute French citizens for offenses committed overseas. This jurisdiction extends to crimes linked to Israel’s war on Gaza.

“I would like to provide clarification on the subject of French-Israeli soldiers engaged in the Israeli army, and on this subject I would particularly like to recall that French justice has jurisdiction over crimes committed by French nationals abroad, including in the context of the ongoing conflict,” said Christophe Lemoine, deputy spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, as quoted by Haaretz.

Since December, France Unbowed has urged French authorities to investigate war crimes committed by French-Israeli soldiers, submitting videos that allegedly display the illicit activities of dual-nationality soldiers in Gaza.

“The involvement of French nationals in these atrocities tarnishes France's image,” Portes stated in a correspondence to the French justice minister during that period.

Around 4,185 Israeli soldiers hold French nationality, according to a report by French newspaper Liberation.

The French announcement comes after a similar move by South Africa earlier this month, with the country’s foreign minister stating that any South African citizens who fight in the Israeli military in Gaza will be arrested when they return home.