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Israeli troopers admit killing Palestinians without restrictions, out of boredom

This handout picture released on December 14, 2023 shows Israeli soldiers in Gaza amid the ongoing genocidal war on the besieged strip. (Photo via Reuters)

Israeli forces have admitted opening fire on Palestinians without restrictions and out of boredom, leaving their bodies on the streets, amid the near-total absence of firing regulations in the regime’s genocidal war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Citing testimonies of six Israeli troopers, an article published by the Tel-Aviv +972 Magazine on Monday said the soldiers were “authorized to open fire on Palestinians virtually at will, including civilians.”

The six sources, who fought in Gaza, recounted how Israeli soldiers routinely killed civilians simply because they entered an area that the military defined as a “no-go zone.”

“There was total freedom of action,” said one of the soldiers identified as B. who fought along with the regular forces in Gaza for months, including in his battalion’s command center.

“If there is [even] a feeling of threat, there is no need to explain — you just shoot.”

When soldiers see someone approaching, “it is permissible to shoot at their center of mass [their body], not into the air,” B. said, adding “It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman.”

Yuval Green, a 26-year-old reservist from al-Quds who fought as part of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade in November and December last year and the only interviewed soldier who was willing to be identified by name, said “There were no restrictions on ammunition,”

“People were shooting just to relieve the boredom,” Green told +972 and Local Call.

S., a reservist who fought in northern Gaza, also said “People want to experience the event [fully],” adding “I personally fired a few bullets for no reason, into the sea or at the sidewalk or an abandoned building. They report it as ‘normal fire,’ which is a codename for ‘I’m bored, so I shoot.'”

M., another reservist who fought in the Gaza Strip, explained when there are no other Israeli forces in the area, “the shooting is very unrestricted, like crazy. And not just small arms: machine guns, tanks, and mortars.”

While shooting at “hospitals, clinics, schools, religious institutions, [and] buildings of international organizations” required higher authorization, A., an interviewed officer, said in practice, “I can count on one hand the cases where we were told not to shoot. Even with sensitive things like schools, [approval] feels like only a formality.”

In general, A. said “the spirit in the operations room was ‘Shoot first, ask questions later.’ That was the consensus … No one will shed a tear if we flatten a house when there was no need, or if we shoot someone who we didn’t have to.”

A. noted that when drones would livestream footage of attacks in Gaza, “there were cheers of joy in the war room.”

“Every once in a while, a building comes down … and the feeling is, ‘Wow, how crazy, what fun.’”

A. emphasized that Israeli reports about the numbers of Hamas fighters killed could not be trusted.

“The feeling in the war room, and this is a softened version, was that every person we killed, we counted him as a terrorist,” he testified, in reference to the resistance fighters.

‘Horrific smell of death’

The testimonies said civilian bodies were left along roads and open ground to decompose or be eaten by stray animals, noting that the Israeli army only hides them ahead of the arrival of international aid convoys.

“The whole area was full of bodies,” said S., a reservist. “There are also dogs, cows, and horses that survived the bombings and have nowhere to go. We can’t feed them, and we don’t want them to get too close either. So, you occasionally see dogs walking around with rotting body parts. There is a horrific smell of death.”

But before the humanitarian convoys arrive, S. said, the bodies are removed.

“A D-9 [Caterpillar bulldozer] goes down, with a tank, and clears the area of corpses, buries them under the rubble, and flips [them] aside so that the convoys don’t see it — [so that] images of people in advanced stages of decay don’t come out,” he recounted, noting that “There are more fatalities than are reported.”

“We were in a small area. Every day, at least one or two [civilians] are killed [because] they walked in a no-go area. I don’t know who is a terrorist and who is not, but most of them did not carry weapons.”

The article said the unrestricted shooting were also partly responsible for the high number of Israeli troops killed by friendly fire in recent months.

C., another soldier who fought in Gaza, described the friendly fire as “more dangerous than Hamas.”

Green also said that such incidents were the “main issue” endangering soldiers’ lives.

“There was quite a bit [of friendly fire]; it drove me crazy,” he said.

According to the article, of the 324 Israeli soldier deaths in Gaza, at least 28 were killed by friendly fire.

‘Indifference to Israeli captives’ fate’

Green also testified that the rules of engagement demonstrated a deep indifference to the fate of the Israeli captives held in Gaza.

According to the testimonies, the open-fire regulations did not change even after Israeli soldiers in Shuja’iyya killed three captives waving white flags in December, thinking they were Palestinians.

“As for the hostages, we didn’t have a specific directive,” B. recalled. “[The army’s top brass] said that after the shooting of the hostages, they briefed [soldiers in the field]. [But] they didn’t talk to us.”

“I’ve heard statements [from other soldiers] that the hostages are dead, they don’t stand a chance, they have to be abandoned,” Green said, adding “[This] bothered me the most … that they kept saying, ‘We’re here for the hostages,’ but it is clear that the war harms the hostages. That was my thought then; today it turned out to be true.”

The article also showed that there is a systematic policy of setting Palestinian homes on fire after occupying them.

When soldiers occupied homes, Green testified, the policy was “if you move, you have to burn down the house.”

B. also confirmed the report, saying “Before you leave, you burn down the house — every house.”

“This is backed up at the battalion commander level. It’s so that [Palestinians] won’t be able to return, and if we left behind any ammunition or food, the terrorists won’t be able to use it,” he said.

Green also said that the destruction the Israeli army has left in Gaza is “unimaginable”, noting that the soldiers were also looting the Palestinian houses.  

Many soldiers “treated the houses [like] a souvenir shop,” looting whatever their Palestinian residents hadn’t managed to take with them.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime's decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against Palestinians.

Since the start of the offensive, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 38,243 Palestinians and injured over 88,033. Thousands more are also missing and presumed dead under rubble.

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