Israel justifies arrests of Palestinians after images showing stripped men detained in Gaza


An Israeli army truck carrying naked Palestinian detainees in the Gaza Strip, December 8, 2023. YOSSI ZELIGER / REUTERS

Dec 11, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

Israel responded to the fierce criticism provoked by degrading photographs and videos showing dozens of naked men, some of them blindfolded, captured by the Israeli army on December 7.

On Friday, December 8, the Israeli government took responsibility for the mass arrests carried out by the army in the Gaza Strip the previous day. This clarification came as human rights organizations reported the disappearance of civilians in Gaza while the army extended its control in the north of the enclave. Israel was responding to fierce criticism, provoked by the release of degrading photographs and videos showing dozens of men, young and old, in their underwear, hands tied, sometimes blindfolded, rounded up in the north of Gaza and, for some, transported in a military vehicle to an unknown destination.

"We're talking about military-age men who were discovered in areas that civilians were supposed to have evacuated weeks ago," government spokesperson Eylon Levy told the BBC

Levy said the individuals would be questioned, to "work out who indeed was a Hamas terrorist and who is not." 

He said arrests had been made in Jabaliya and Shejaiya, two towns in the west of the Gaza Strip that Israeli infantry have been trying to gain control of since December 1 and which had previously faced intense aerial bombardments.

'Human shields'

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a leading organization in the Gaza Strip, cited several witnesses who said that one of its investigators, Ayman Lubad, was among hundreds of people arrested on the morning of December 7 in Beit Lahia. 

The London-based Qatari media outlet The New Arab also claimed that one of its journalists, Diaa Al-Kahlout, had also been arrested. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that dozens of men aged over 15 had also been arrested the same day in a local school where civilians were seeking shelter, then stripped, restrained and transported to an unknown location. 

Two days later, on December 9, the office reported several dozen new arrests in this school. Some of them have since been released, claiming to have been ill-treated.

Le Monde