Israeli soldiers’ testimonies: Execution of civilians common in Gaza

The situation in Gaza

Published 11 July 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Since the beginning of the invasion of Gaza, a large number of war crimes have been reported.

Several Israeli soldiers now testify how the Israeli army systematically executes Palestinian civilians for being in the “wrong place” and how, in practice, the soldiers are free to shoot whenever they feel like it.

– It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman, says one of them.

Since the invasion of Gaza began, a number of videos have circulated on social media that appear to show summary executions and other Israeli abuses against unarmed or civilian Palestinians.

At the same time, it has been very difficult to report factually and accurately from Gaza, partly because the Israeli military has chosen to severely restrict journalists’ freedom of movement, and partly because few reporters dare to report from the ground because of the danger to their lives – to date, nearly 110 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict.

However, the left-wing +972 Magazine and Local Call have spoken to six Israeli soldiers who took part in the invasion, and they confirm earlier reports that they were free to open fire on Palestinians – including civilians – almost at will.

The six soldiers, all but one of whom spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, describe how Israeli soldiers “routinely” executed Palestinian civilians simply for entering an area defined by the military as a “no-go zone”, and how scores of human bodies were then left to rot or eaten by wild animals.

“Total freedom of action”

The sources go on to say that the bodies are only hidden before international aid convoys arrive at the sites so that “images of people in advanced stages of decay don’t come out”, and two of the witnesses recount the Israeli army’s policy of setting fire to Palestinian homes after they are occupied.

Several of the soldiers also stated that they were free to shoot without any restrictions and that they often fired indiscriminately to relieve boredom or “blow off steam” – including on sidewalks, supposedly abandoned buildings.

– There was total freedom of action. If there is a feeling of threat, there is no need to explain — you just shoot, says one soldier, adding that as soon as someone approaches, you are allowed to shoot – no matter who it is.

– It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman.


He goes on to describe an incident in which 15 to 20 Palestinians were executed for walking in the wrong direction during a school evacuation, and that all Palestinian men are considered suspected terrorists.

– It is forbidden to walk around, and everyone who is outside is suspicious. If we see someone in a window looking at us, he is a suspect. You shoot.

– When there are no IDF forces [in the area] … the shooting is very unrestricted, like crazy. And not just small arms: machine guns, tanks, and mortars, says another soldier, recounting how a Palestinian family with two children was killed for walking outside.

26-year-old Yuval Green, the only soldier to speak under his own name, paints the same picture, saying that “people shoot just to avoid boredom”.

“The war hurts the hostages.”

But the fact that Israeli soldiers are free to shoot a little like they used to is fraught with risk – even for themselves. Of at least 324 Israeli soldiers killed, nearly 30 were shot by their own troops.

Green says the Israeli military has shown a profound indifference to Israelis held hostage by Hamas – including routinely blowing up tunnels without first checking them, even if it means killing hostages inside. In another case, Israeli soldiers shot and killed three hostages even though they were waving white flags.

– [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, Green said.

“Shoot first, ask questions later”

One officer says that in theory, firing on hospitals, clinics, schools, religious institutions, and buildings belonging to international organizations requires higher authorization – but in practice, it was almost always up to the brigades themselves to decide when to fire live rounds.

– 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.

– 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.

Soldiers also speak of certain “kill zones” in Gaza where the Israeli military operated and where any Palestinian found was immediately killed. It often felt as if the soldiers were competing to see how many “terrorists” they could kill each day, and there was celebration and jubilation as buildings in Gaza were reduced to rubble, while it was often argued that the Palestinian civilian population was also “complicit” in the bloody Hamas attacks of October 7.

– I, too, a rather left-wing soldier, forget very quickly that these are real homes. It felt like a computer game. Only after two weeks did I realize that these are [actual] buildings that are falling: if there are inhabitants [inside], explains one soldier.

“Most of them had no weapons”

Several also testify to Palestinians being executed even after it was clear they were civilians – often while searching for food that had fallen from aid trucks.

– I saw a lot of civilians – families, women, children. 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, says another.

Since the invasion of Gaza began, nearly 39,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to local authorities, with more than 60,000 injured and tens of thousands reported missing.

Israel has always maintained that this is a military operation aimed at eliminating Hamas, but as reports of abuses have increased, more voices are arguing that what Israel is doing in Gaza amounts to genocide.

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