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Israel 'set 100s of Gaza houses ablaze' on commander orders

Israeli troops set hundreds of Gaza homes ablaze on orders from commanders: report
2 min read
02 February, 2024
The setting ablaze of residential buildings by Israeli soldiers in Gaza has prompted fears within Israel that it could strengthen an ICJ case against it.
Israel's war on Gaza has caused massive destruction, with at least half of all buildings in the territory damaged or destroyed [Abdulqader Sabbah/Anadolu via Getty]

Israeli soldiers have set hundreds of Gaza homes ablaze, following orders from commanders, according to a new report.

Several hundred houses in the besieged enclave have been destroyed in the arson campaign, according to Israeli publication Haaretz.

Israeli officers told Haaretz that the practice is ordered based on intelligence reports that claim that those who own, live in, or use the buildings are connected to Hamas, but videos posted to social media purportedly show soldiers burning down homes as "revenge" for the 7 October attacks or soldiers lost in combat.

Speaking about one incident in which a house was burned to the ground, an Israeli commander told Haaretz that "there must have been information about the landlord, or maybe something was found there. I don't know exactly why that house was set on fire".

Among the hundreds of houses that have been set ablaze was that of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed journalist Diaa Al-Kahlout, who was released from a month-long detention on 9 January.

His home was targeted by Israeli soldiers after he and scores of other civilians were detained in Beit Lahia, while his family was expelled from the property.

Setting fire to civilian homes as a form of punishment is illegal under international law.

The US has reportedly put pressure on Israel with regards to the practice, and the Israeli military has since "significantly reduced" its use, Haaretz reported.

The mass burning of houses in Gaza - a practice that has been described by experts as domicide - could be used as further evidence in the ongoing International Court of Justice (ICJ) case against Israel, following a recent verdict from the court that it was plausible that Israel is committing genocide in the Palestinian territory.

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An Israeli army spokesperson told Haaretz that "detonating and destroying buildings is done with approved, appropriate means. Actions that were carried out in different ways during the war will be looked into".

Israel's war on Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis that has seen over 80 percent of the enclave's population displaced and prompted the World Health Organisation to issue stark warnings of potential famine engulfing the enclave.

According to a BBC Verify investigation, between 50 and 61 percent of Gaza's buildings have been damaged or destroyed in Israel's brutal assault, totaling between 144,000 and 175,000 buildings in the enclave.

This includes residential blocks and schools, with the report also noting severe damage to Gaza's agricultural land.

Israel's war has killed at least 27,019 Palestinians according to Gaza's health authorities, with a further 66,139 injured.