Israeli soldiers ordered to burn down homes in Gaza, Israeli reports say

Army officers tell newspaper occupied houses are first searched and then 'burnt, with everything in it'

Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip. AFP
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Israeli soldiers were ordered on Thursday to burn down homes in the Gaza Strip “until they are rendered useless”, according to a report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz .

Three army officers leading Israel's offensive on Gaza said burning homes occupied by the military has become “common practice”, according to the report.

Israel has not publicly acknowledged the practice but the officers told the newspaper that homes are selected “based on intel.”

“The houses are destroyed, occupied. Now what is left is to thoroughly search them – inside the couches, behind the closets. Weapons, intel, shafts and rocket launchers, we found all of these," he told the Israeli paper.

“In the end, the house is burnt, with everything in it.”

It comes as Ashraf Al Qudra, the spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said the situation at Nasser Hospital and Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis is deteriorating.

"The catastrophic situation in the hospitals of Khan Younis warns of the martyrdom of many wounded and injured individuals due to targeting and the lack of medical resources," he said.

Mr Al Qudra warned about the "depletion of food supplies in Nasser Medical Complex and Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis."

Adding that “the Israeli occupation bears full responsibility for the lives of medical staff, patients, and displaced individuals in Nasser Medical Complex and Al Amal Hospital."

The operations of the UN refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, will most likely be forced to shut down by the end of February if its funding remains suspended, director of communications at UNRWA Juliette Touma told Reuters on Thursday.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has become dire not just for civilians but also for journalists: 122 have been killed in the conflict so far according to the UN, and many others injured.

UN rights experts voiced alarm at the high numbers, calling them evidence of an apparently "deliberate" Israeli strategy of silencing critical reporting.

"Rarely have journalists paid such a heavy price for just doing their job as those in Gaza now," the five experts said in a statement.

Palestinian militants also killed four Israeli journalists on October 7, while three journalists have been killed by Israeli shelling on the Lebanese side of the Lebanon-Israel border.

"We are alarmed at the extraordinarily high numbers of journalists and media workers who have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza, in recent months," the experts said.

At least 27,019 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli attacks since October 7 and another 66,139 have been wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Updated: February 02, 2024, 4:57 AM