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Israeli soldiers celebrate the ‘torturing, humiliating, and mocking’ of Palestinians on social media

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 As much of the world charges Israel with committing crimes of genocide against the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, visual evidence of Israeli “extreme brutality and torture, violence, [and] utter disrespect for human life” has been celebrated by soldiers on the ground in their personal videos and uploaded for social media consumption, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

The vivid nine-minute video, titled Genocide in Gaza through the eyes of Israeli soldiers, displays many images of mass arrests, humiliations and mocking of Palestinian male civilians, with Israeli soldiers celebrating the detonation of widespread large explosives taking down vast areas of buildings. These clips are often set to music for the seeming enhancement of its revelry and entertainment value supposedly for Israeli audiences.

“There has been a remarkable number of videos posted by Israeli soldiers on social media depicting themselves pillaging property, mocking the death and destruction that they are causing, and most egregiously torturing, humiliating, and mocking detained Palestinian prisoners,” summarized Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Democracy for the Arab World Now.

  • Whitson is an Armenian American, Harvard Law graduate, and former Human Rights Watch executive director who spent her childhood summers visiting family in the Middle East.

With images of an apparent Israeli pillaging in a ransacked home, along with scores of videos of blindfolded men, few, if any, being Hamas militants, most often stripped to their underwear, on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs, being displayed across the screen, a second expert in carceral practices said this affirms what Christians and others have been reporting regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

  • “These images are testament to what Palestinians have long been saying, which is that this settler colonial regime is utterly violent,” said Basil Farraj, Assistant Professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank.
  • “They show the nature through which this genocide is unfolding in the Gaza Strip. They also show the extreme brutality and torture, violence, [and] utter disregard of human life, transforming these violent conducts into a spectacle to be viewed and watched on social media posts.”

He went on to provide examples of how these racist beliefs manifest themselves in policies of systematic oppression which condition Israelis to live otherwise normal lives while committing “crimes, ongoing crime for so many years.”

Visually assessing one such incident in these videos, which is blurred out to apparently shield the viewer from its pronounced violence, Hajjar described a man in his “most vulnerable position” with his hands being “bound behind his back” while he is “lying face down” with “soldiers stepping on his face.”

This “epitomizes torture in general: purposefully harming someone who’s in custody” and “not only on the ground and tied up, but completely powerless.” Further exploitation occurs in such incidents when the perpetrators film or photograph them for the purpose of providing “trophy shots” for others on social media.

‘Israeli forces have disappeared thousands of Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip’

  • “The images are showing us and telling us how central imprisonment or carceral practices are to the settler colonial regime,” said Farraj, making reference to the decades-long abuse of arbitrary or otherwise political arrests.

Since the beginning of the current 57-year occupation, Palestinians have been subject to capricious arrest in the occupied territories or for violating Israeli military orders criminalizing civic activities such as participation in protests, the printing and distribution of political material, along with waving flags, using other political symbols, or posting something undesirable on social media, deeming such activities “hostile propaganda” and “incitement.”

Even prior to the current conflict these Palestinian political prisoners (i.e. “hostages”) numbered in the thousands, including at least 33 women and 170 children, of whom at least 1,200 were being held without charges or trial.

While many have also argued that the 2.2 million people present in Gaza are effectively prisoners, the United Nations reported last July that “since 1967, Israel had detained approximately one million Palestinians in the occupied territory, including tens of thousands of children.”

  • One 2020 report from international advocacy group Save the Children found these children “face inhumane treatment such as beatings, strip searches, psychological abuse, weeks in solitary confinement, and being denied access to a lawyer during interrogations.”

The high volumes of these arrests over the years equate to one in every five Palestinians being incarcerated for violating Israeli military orders, and two of every five men.

Yet, “since October 7, over 7,000 Palestinians have been detained,” Farraj said, “which is a number unheard of over the past decade.” And “the torture, humiliation, and degrading conduct against Palestinians is not simply restricted to the Gaza Strip,” but videos come from the West Bank as well.

  • “Human rights groups say Israeli forces have disappeared thousands of Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip. Including men, women and children,” states a screen text in the film.
  • “Palestinians say they have experienced severe beatings, torture and humiliation while in Israeli custody.”

Videos ‘further reinforce’ broad Israeli propaganda treating ‘all Palestinians’ as ‘the enemy’

The Al Jazeera presentation moves into a compilation of soldier-filmed videos of enormous explosive detonations, fires, or otherwise demolitions of buildings. These films appear to be uploaded for mocking or otherwise entertainment purposes.

  • “The Israeli soldiers have quite remarkably taken to converting their massive, really unprecedented destruction of Palestinian homes, hospitals, mosques, universities, churches, [and] schools, into entertainment videos,” observed Whitson.
  • One includes soldiers posing and casually smoking while feigning to be modestly surprised at the enormous series of detonations in the background leveling multiple buildings.
  • Other clips show pop songs attached to the images of homes burning or olive trees used for farming being destroyed. Other pictures show Israeli soldiers displaying women’s undergarments “mocking and advertising their very deliberate intrusion of the home of a Palestinian woman, the confiscation of her most intimate apparel, and flaunting that in a way that’s definitely intended to be provocative and humiliating,” Whitson said.

Displaying a well-known clip of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declaring, “We are fighting human animals and we are reacting accordingly” as he announced the cutting off of all electricity, food, water, and fuel into Gaza,

  • Hajjar observed, “the videos further reinforce a discourse that is coming out of every sector of the Israeli official machinery, where all Palestinians are the enemy.”

Israeli soldiers exhibit ‘exultation of spirit’ as they ‘destroy Palestinian homes’ and completely ‘disregard’ their humanity

  • In a November interview with Candice Owens, Jewish Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein explained that what is happening in Gaza “is not a particularly complicated situation right now.

The Israeli government has openly, unabashedly, flagrantly, blatantly declared a war of genocide on the people of Gaza.”

  • “That’s not exaggerated language,” he said, recalling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reference to the Old Testament story of Amalek in a speech last October.

  • “And what’s a war against Amalek? Well just open up the Old Testament. It obliges Israel to kill every man, woman and child.”
  • Elsewhere Finkelstein has published a long compilation of quotes from other Israeli officials stating their intention to “obliterate civilian infrastructure,” “create a humanitarian crisis,” make Gaza “unfit for living” and drive the population out into Egypt.
  • “Can there be any doubt in the minds of any objective observer, when Israel declares a policy of prohibiting any food, water, fuel, or electricity from entering Gaza” that genocide is their policy?, he asked.

  • And, according to Hajjar, these directives can be seen “manifested in that kind of joie de vivre [exultation of spirit] that soldiers are expressing as they destroy Palestinian homes. And there is a consumption of this kind of image that kind of fortifies the anger, the hatred, the anti-Palestinian sentiment, and the kind of complete disregard of the humanity of Palestinian civilians.”

Israel has perfected ‘dehumanization of subjects’ which is necessary to inflict violence, soldiers ‘exempted from complying with international laws’

  • “There’s such a high level of confidence among these IDF soldiers that they can do whatever they want,” said Whitson.
  • “They say to the whole world, ‘Look at what we’re doing to Palestinians in Gaza! Look at how we are brutalizing detainees. Look at how we’re humiliating every single man, woman, and child as we destroy their homes, set fire to them, and make fun of it!’”
  • “And they are provoking and challenging the whole world [as if] to say, ‘We can do this. We can get away with it, and no one in the world can stop us,’” she said.

Since no Israeli has been sanctioned by the international community, this “has only reinforced the belief of Israeli soldiers that they are immune, that they are exempted from complying with international laws, from basic human rights laws, that they are above the law,” Whitson explained.

  • “There’s a long-practiced history of racializing and dehumanizing Palestinians,” Farraj added.
  • “These images and these videos entirely show how Israeli violence is also not only directed towards Palestinian livelihood, but also their material beings, their houses, their belongings, eliminating Palestinian existence.”
  • “History has taught us that the dehumanization of subjects is essential to the infliction of violence,” he continued.
  • “I think Israel has perfected this in discourse and in practice. But this is not new, it dates back to the beginning of this state through which Palestinians were expelled, degraded, humiliated, killed, and effectively, forcibly disappeared.”
  • Al Jazeera reports Israeli authorities declined to comment on the “practices of their soldiers” as shown in these videos, but released a communication to their troops last month stating they are “not on a campaign of killing, revenge, or genocide,” and urged soldiers “not to use force where it is not required, take anything that isn’t ours or film revenge videos.”

Al Jazeera a highly credentialed news network, Western legacy media ‘skewed by a systemic and institutional bias’ toward Israel
While some Western influencers may challenge the credibility of the Al Jazeera news network, in 2018 the National Press Club came to their defense highlighting their winning “several Emmys, a Peabody and the Overseas Press Association’s Edward R. Murrow award,” along with many other honors over the years. “The accolades received by Al Jazeera from respected American professional organizations attest to the quality of their news coverage.”

Additionally, even The New York Times editorial board affirmed in 2017 that the network’s “reporting hews to international journalistic standards and provides a unique view on events in the Middle East.”

The current unprecedented Israeli assault on the people and civil infrastructure of Gaza has also elevated the degree to which many Western media organizations’ heavy bias towards Israel has been clearly exposed.

Last month, several employees at CNN told The Guardian that there was a “growing [internal] backlash against the leadership’s pro-Israel slant” in its war coverage which is “skewed by a systemic and institutional bias” toward Israel and thus amounts to “journalistic malpractice.” Similar internal disquiet over the BBC’s “skewed” coverage happened in January.

And while CNN is happy to employ an anchor like Wolf Blitzer, who is a former employee of AIPAC, a flagship of the Israel Lobby, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch also has a tight attachment to Israel, including a close family relationship with Netanyahu, perhaps due in part to his mother reportedly being an Orthodox Jew.

  • In fact, elsewhere, Finkelstein has stated that the “ethnic element” relating to “a large Jewish presence” in the mainstream media and a resulting “sense of Jewish ethnic solidarity [with Israel]… plays a role” in the presentation of a broad media bias in favor of the Jewish state.

As it stands, prior to his being fired by Murdoch’s Fox News, Tucker Carlson, the most popular cable news host in history, was feared as being “a Big Problem for pro-Israel Conservatives” and “a threat to the pro-Israel community” due to “his lack of enthusiasm for the Jewish state,” not to mention his overt opposition to the neocon supported war in Ukraine, all of which may have contributed to his ouster.

Israel is ‘a genocidal society,’ ‘a satanic state,’ Jewish commentators

  • Since their besieging of the Strip after the October 7 attack by Hamas, reports indicate the Israelis have killed at least 32,078 people including 31,645 in Gaza (72 percent women and children, even by sniper fire) and 435 in the West Bank (115 children), with injuries numbering 73,676 in Gaza and 4,665 in the West Bank). Additionally, an estimated 7,000 more individuals are reported missing and are presumed dead and buried under the rubble (4,900 women and children).
  • Moreover, 1.7 million (75 percent) of Palestinians are displaced, and 2.2 million are facing crisis, emergency, or famine levels of food insecurity with at least 31 deaths (27 children) being reported thus far due to malnutrition.
  • Furthermore, with hundreds of American-made 2,000 pound bombs being dropped on this most populated region in the world, an estimated 50 percent to 62 percent of all buildings in Gaza had been damaged or destroyed by the end of January alone.
  • Surprisingly, a poll released in late October, after weeks of reports and images of the monumental death and damage inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza, showed that only 1.8 percent of Israelis thought their government was using too much firepower in its assault on the besieged Strip.
  • And perhaps more surprising, 57.5 percent believed that the daunting assault was utilizing too little firepower. Other polls from December and January have confirmed similar attitudes.

Back in November, Jewish journalist Max Blumenthal assessed that what is happening in Israel is “a fundamentally genocidal political movement, and a genocidal society. This Israeli society is primed for genocide.”

In fact, the Israeli Defense Force has recently been compelled to admit that it sponsored a propaganda channel on internet messaging platform Telegram aimed at Israeli citizens that featured snuff videos taken by their soldiers reveling over “Palestinians being murdered, dehumanized as insects and vermin, their bodies desecrated, and the destruction of Gaza glorified,” according to Breaking Point.

Reflecting not only on the Israeli leadership’s statements supporting genocidal ends in Gaza and the operations of the Israeli army executing such objectives, but also on the high levels of support for genocide among the nation’s citizens, Finkelstein lamented that Israel is “a satanic state.”

Despite Israel’s continued infliction of overwhelming damage and loss of life, the Biden administration continues to offer rhetoric against the assaults while simultaneously continuing the weapons supply facilitating them.

This happens while growing majorities of U.S. voters support a ceasefire with numbers having trended up to 60 percent in December and then to 67 percent in late February including solid majorities among Democrats, Republicans and Independents calling for an end to the killing.

  • In recent years, the Israel lobby has been increasingly acknowledged as the driving force that has invincibly secured the virtually unconditional support of the United States for Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, both financially and diplomatically, even to the exclusion of authentic American interests.

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