Videos of French-Israeli soldiers in Gaza spark 'war crimes' court cases

Videos of French-Israeli soldiers in Gaza spark 'war crimes' court cases
A case has been filed against French-Israeli soldiers abusing Palestinians in Gaza, based on several viral videos.
3 min read
25 March, 2024
According to a decades-old agreement between France and Israel, dual French-Israeli citizens can be drafted by the Israeli army. (Getty Images)

A French politician has filed a case against a French-Israeli soldier allegedly seen "brutalising" Palestinian detainees in Gaza, according to reports.

Thomas Portes, a member of the National Assembly representing the France Unbowed (LFI) party, filed a case on Thursday night against the man accused of "complicity in war crimes and torture".

Multiple videos showing allegedly show French-Israeli soldiers humiliating Palestinian prisoners in Gaza have gone viral over the past few days, prompting calls in France for authorities to investigate and prosecute dual French-Israeli citizens for their participation in war crimes. 

In one of the videos, which went viral on Wednesday, a French-speaking Israeli soldier filmed himself playing a popular French children's song on loudspeaker to a bus filled with Palestinian detainees.

"There are great vibes here," the soldier said in French, passing between ranks of blindfolded prisoners.

The location and exact date of the video could not be verified by The New Arab but the images are similar to others posted online by Israeli soldiers showing Palestinian detainees detainees being subject to degrading treatment.

Another video widely circulated last week showed a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian man abused by several Israeli soldiers, who brutally push him off a truck.

Speaking in French, the man who filmed the video is heard insulting the prisoner several times.

"They tortured him to make him speak," the man said in the video.

"Did you see his back?" as he films the back of one of the detainees, which shows apparent signs of torture. 

The two videos circulated widely on social media and caused uproar in France, where many public figures and pro-Palestine supporters have called on French authorities to investigate and identify dual French-Israeli citizens allegedly involved in war crimes in Gaza.

The videos even elicited a response from the French government on Thursday with a spokesperson for the foreign ministry telling reporters that the French judiciary "was competent" to investigate war crimes committed by its citizens abroad, "including during this ongoing conflict".

Portes and members of his far-left party had called on the French government to investigate allegations of war crimes in Gaza as early as December, relaying multiple videos that seemingly show abuses committed by French nationals serving with the Israeli military in Gaza.

"As the UN, through several of its special rapporteurs, highlights the genocidal risks and that 19,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, the participation of French nationals in these atrocities casts a shadow on France," Portes wrote in a letter to France's Justice minister on 20 December.

Similar cases are likely to be filed in the coming weeks and months, given the large number of French citizens serving in the Israeli army.

Palestinian lawyers and solidarity groups have already warned that they will "add the names" of French-Israeli soldiers identified online in such videos to a file currently being prepared for prosecution.

"He carries the French nationality. His file will be added to the upcoming French complaints," Dyab Abou Jahjah, the president of the Palestine solidarity movement March30Movement, tweeted on 24 February in response to a picture posted on Tinder by a French-Israeli soldier, posing in a Gaza home next to lingerie belonging to displaced Palestinian women.

Based on a decades-old agreement between France and Israel, signed in 1959, dual French-Israeli nationals can be drafted by Israel.

An estimated 4,000 French-Israelis were enlisted in the Israeli army in 2018, according to official figures provided by Israel to French media but this figure is likely to have increased significantly since the start of the war on Gaza considering that Israel has drafted over 360,000 reservists, many dual nationals, after 7 October.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed more than 32,000 people – the majority women and children.