Israel army to 'act' after investigation reveals soldiers filmed naked, blindfolded Palestinians

Israel army to 'act' after investigation reveals soldiers filmed naked, blindfolded Palestinians
Israel announced it will punish soldiers following an investigation by the BBC. But it has a poor track record of holding its soldiers to account.
3 min read
13 February, 2024
Israeli forces in Gaza have been accused of committing a number of war crimes violations [Getty]

Israel's army has said “significant command measures will be taken” against soldiers who filmed naked and blindfolded Palestinian detainees and uploaded the footage online, following a BBC report.

A BBC Verify investigation on 9 February identified hundreds of online videos showing Palestinian detainees being humiliated, including eight that were shared by Israeli soldiers and showed stripped and blindfolded people. The detainees were filmed against their will by current or former soldiers, who uploaded the footage online without hiding their identity.

The images, which circulated widely, constitute a likely violation of international law. Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits degrading treatment and “outrages upon personal dignity” of both soldiers and civilians.

But humiliating Palestinians is common practice among Israeli soldiers, who have taken to TikTok to share footage of their own abuses during the war on Gaza. Hundreds of videos have surfaced since November 2023 on soldiers’ TikTok accounts, showing them blowing up buildings, vandalising and looting homes, and raising Israeli flags over the ruins. Many also show Palestinian men and women stripped of their clothes, blindfolded, and forced to kneel on the ground in public.

Despite army statements distancing itself from the actions of individual soldiers, a Haaretz investigation earlier this month revealed that a psychological warfare unit of the Israeli army was behind the '72 Virgins  – Uncensored' Telegram channel which shared and celebrated images of destruction and gore from Gaza.

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The Israeli military responded to the investigation on Monday saying it would take action against its soldiers found to have filmed Palestinian detainees in humiliating circumstances. It also claimed to have terminated the service of one of the reservists identified in the investigation.

But international human rights groups have cast doubts on the impartiality of the Israeli army’s internal probes on multiple occasions in the past.

A prior internal probe carried out in 2009 by the Israeli army and covering the 2008-2009 Israeli “Operation Cast Lead” failed to find any evidence of misconduct, although it had killed over 1,000 Palestinian civilians and involved the use of white phosphorus near civilian homes.

It is also not the first time Israel has claimed it will investigate cases of “misconduct” during the current war on Gaza. In an earlier statement made in response to The New Arab’s own investigations about similar videos, the Israeli military said: “The IDF [Israel Defense Forces or Israeli military] has acted and continues to act to identify unusual cases that deviate from what is expected of IDF soldiers. Those cases will be arbitrated, and significant command measures will be taken against the soldiers involved.”