Israel’s military called the videos “deplorable” and promised an investigation
Hundreds of videos filmed and shared by Israeli soldiers in Gaza show troops bulldozing houses and mocking Palestinian victims, according to research by the New York Times. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has distanced itself from the content, some of which violates its code of conduct.
The Times said it has reviewed “hundreds” of videos, including more than 50 clips of Israel’s engineering troops using bulldozers, excavators and explosives to destroy homes, schools and other civilian structures. Some footage reportedly shows soldiers “vandalizing local shops and school classrooms” and “making derogatory comments about Palestinians.”
In one video posted to TikTok, a soldier is seen giving a thumbs-up while driving a bulldozer in northern Gaza. The caption accompanying the clip reportedly said “I stopped counting how many neighborhoods I’ve erased.”
Another clip shows an IDF soldier declaring that Gaza’s Shujaiyya neighborhood was “gone” as his camera passed over rubble in the distance. The man is also heard saying “Nahal Oz, with God’s help you will have this,” apparently dedicating the destruction to an Israeli kibbutz nearby. Some soldiers shared videos of themselves dancing with destroyed buildings in the background, while others posted memes and music videos that featured the demolition of homes and other structures in Gaza.
The Shujaiyya video and other footage filmed by IDF troops was cited in South Africa’s ongoing genocide case against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which accuses West Jerusalem of violating the Genocide Convention. In its 85-page legal filing, Pretoria described the clips as “a form of ‘snuff’ video” and “genocidal speech,” noting that soldiers are heard celebrating the demolition of over 50 Gazan homes in one clip, as well as singing the words “We will destroy all of Khan Younis.”
Some of the videos appear to run afoul of IDF regulations governing social media posts by personnel, which expressly prohibit behavior that “harms human dignity” or that could impact the “image of the IDF and its perceptions in the eyes of the public.”
Israel’s military has condemned the footage in a written statement to the Times, saying it was investigating the “circumstances” of the videos while noting they were not in line with army orders.
”The conduct of the force that emerges from the footage is deplorable,” the IDF added.
The devastation to residential areas seen in the videos is reflected in United Nations statistics on the war, with the agency estimating that over 60% of all housing units in Gaza had been destroyed or damaged in Israeli operations. That amounts to around 300,000 houses and apartments, while some 85% of the enclave’s 2.2 million residents have been forced to flee their homes.
The IDF launched its military operation following a Hamas terrorist attack last October which claimed some 1,200 lives in Israel, and saw more than 200 people taken hostage by Palestinian fighters. To date, over 27,000 Gazans have been killed in the Israeli response, with thousands more wounded or thought to be trapped under rubble, according to local health officials.