Israeli Soldiers — ‘It’s Permissible to Shoot Everyone’

Israeli publications +972 Magazine and Local Call interviewed six soldiers released from active duty who gave detailed accounts of how they attacked civilians in Gaza.

Israeli military during ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 31, 2023. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Disputing the repeated claims of Israeli officials and their vehement supporters in the Biden administration who have scoffed at concerns that the Israel Defense Forces are targeting civilians in Gaza, in-depth reporting on Monday based on the testimony of six former IDF soldiers described how they were encouraged to fire their weapons to relieve “boredom” and felt “authorized to open fire on Palestinians virtually at will, including civilians.”

In their latest investigative report on the IDF’s rules of engagement in Gaza, Israeli publications +972 Magazine and Local Call interviewed six soldiers who had been released from active duty. 

Medical providers and eyewitnesses have described the shooting of Palestinian women and children by Israeli snipers, and footage has shown unarmed Palestinians being executed while walking along a road. The soldiers confirmed that the IDF has been operating with “total freedom of action,” as one said, since October.

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

If troops see a person approaching and don’t know whether they are armed or pose a threat, “it is permissible to shoot at their center of mass [their body], not into the air… It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman,” said B. 

The soldiers said they sometimes fired their weapons as “a way to blow off steam or relieve the dullness of their daily routine,” with one reservist saying that they wanted “to experience the event [fully].”

The reservist described shooting “for no reason” at times, “into the sea or at the sidewalk or an abandoned building,” while a soldier identified as S. told +972 and Local Call that the IDF would engage in a tactic called “demonstrating presence,” in which they would repeatedly fire their weapons to show any Palestinians in the area that they were there. 

They would “shoot a lot, even for no reason — anyone who wants to shoot, no matter what the reason, shoots,” said S. 

The report follows the publication of an analysis by medical experts in The Lancet, who said the death toll in Gaza — officially over 38,000 — could be off by roughly 150,000 people due to the deaths of Palestinians who have starved, died of medical conditions that couldn’t be treated due to the destruction of the healthcare system, and succumbed to other “indirect” impacts of the war. 

Al Jazeera journalist Laila Al-Arian said that the confessions of the Israeli soldiers to +972 only confirm what “has been clear since the beginning.”

“Israeli soldiers in Gaza are operating under the premise that they can kill anything that moves and that every Palestinian is fair game for slaughter,” she said. 

Israeli soldiers around Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The soldiers also described “routinely” executing Palestinian civilians because they had entered an area designated a “no-go zone” by the IDF, and allowing their surroundings to become “littered with civilian corpses, which are left to rot or be eaten by stray animals.”

The soldiers were instructed to hide the bodies when international aid groups arrived, to ensure that “images of people in advanced stages of decay don’t come out.”

S. said they “saw a lot of civilians — families, women, children,” and confirmed that “there are more fatalities than are reported.” 

“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,” they said.

B told +972 and Local Call that the army suspects any male between the ages of 16 and 50 of being a terrorist, and treats anyone walking around outside or looking at the IDF from a building as suspicious — and a legitimate target.

“You shoot,” said B. “The [army’s] perception is that any contact [with the population] endangers the forces, and a situation must be created in which it is forbidden to approach [the soldiers] under any circumstances.”

The report follows previous revelations from the Israeli news outlets on the IDF’s use of artificial intelligence to target Palestinians, with little regard for civilians who might be killed when suspected Hamas members were attacked in their homes. 

A soldier identified as A. said that working alongside commanders in an operations room and determining which buildings should be struck “felt like a computer game.”

“I, too, a rather left-wing soldier, forget very quickly that these are real homes,” said A.

“Only after two weeks did I realize that these are [actual] buildings that are falling: if there are inhabitants [inside], then [the buildings are collapsing] on their heads.”

Yuval Green, who served in the 55th Paratroopers Brigade late last year and signed a letter with 40 other reservists last month refusing to take part in the invasion of Rafah, testified that soldiers were ordered to burn down homes that they had occupied.

“If you move, you have to burn down the house,” he said, adding that the policy did not make sense to him in an operation that was supposedly aimed at targeting Hamas. 

“We are in these houses not because they belong to Hamas operatives, but because they serve us operationally,” Green said. “It is a house of two or three families — to destroy it means they will be homeless.”

Policy analyst Tariq Kenney-Shawa addressed those who might be surprised that “Israeli soldiers would so readily admit their war crimes.”

“It’s simple,” Kenney-Shawa said. “They’ve never faced any consequences. They are only rewarded for their massacres.”

Yael Berta of the Middle East Initiative said the latest dispatch from +972 regarding the orders IDF soldiers are given is likely just a fraction of the truth that will eventually come out about the war in Gaza. 

“I am pretty sure we don’t know half of what went on during these nine months in Gaza,” she said. 

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

11 comments for “Israeli Soldiers — ‘It’s Permissible to Shoot Everyone’

  1. Judith Dyer
    July 10, 2024 at 16:04

    War criminal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address a joint meeting of Congress on July 24, If I could be in Washington to yell at him, I would. But, I live in Mexico. The USA is supporting genocide….all members of Congress must support genocide due to the influence of the GD Donor Jewish Israeli Lobby. We are puppets of Israel. Who could have forecast that Jews whose relatives suffered extermination or Jews who feared extermination would stoop to this? Why are the Jews always ending up being a “pain in the ass”?

  2. John
    July 10, 2024 at 08:23

    Do unto Others, as you would have them Do unto you. An ancient saying, from the Christian Bible that we all believe at some level.

    The worst fear of the Zionist is that the non-Jewish (Zionist) people of the world would treat them as they treat everyone else.

    Living in fear of everyone else in the entire planet (all the Lesser humans) is a very scary existence. It would be much more harmonious to treat the Palestinians with respect and justice.

  3. WillD
    July 10, 2024 at 01:59

    These soldiers are symptomatic of a culture that has dehumanised an entire nation – to the point where it is perfectly acceptable to kill them indiscriminately for no other reason than a solider’s boredom!

    Israel is an extraordinarily sick country that has sunk into a level of depravity not seen since WWII.

    • Nathan W Canaan
      July 10, 2024 at 05:51

      Well said.

    • Brian Bixby
      July 11, 2024 at 02:13

      In a survey of Jewish Israeli citizens 75% said that they felt the IDF wasn’t using **enough** force in Gaza. 68% opposed allowing **any** aid into Gaza, condemning 2 1/2 million people to starvation.

      It’s a seriously sick society.

  4. Andrew
    July 9, 2024 at 21:19

    IDF = Israeli Death Force

  5. Richard Mynick
    July 9, 2024 at 18:04

    I whole-heartedly agree with the first 2 comments on this thread (by susan and gew919). Israel has ‘succeeded’ in developing a society that’s not ‘merely’ apartheid and built atop decades of persecution, illegal occupation & land-theft, it is now openly committing genocide and has bred a populace whose “values” include sadism & cold-blooded murder.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    July 9, 2024 at 15:15

    Reading this article I shudder through and through. Were the German Nazis just as brutal and their tactics now applied by the IDF? Reading this I conclude that the rise in anti Semitism is no surprise.

  7. susan
    July 9, 2024 at 13:12

    If “it’s permissible to shoot everyone”, I suggest that you shoot yourselves and each other IDF – problem solved…

    • Brian Bixby
      July 11, 2024 at 09:39

      Actually they’ve been shooting so indiscriminately that ‘friendly fire’ is a major cause of casualties.

  8. gcw919
    July 9, 2024 at 12:26

    Let’s not forget that this is only possible because of the complete support of the “indispensable” nation.

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