Gazans horrified to find homes ransacked and graffitied by Israeli troops

Civilians return to northern areas to discover obscene messages left on walls by soldiers

Israeli soldiers near the Jabalia refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza city. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Israeli soldiers have graffitied and ransacked Gazan homes in the north of the besieged enclave, residents told The National.

“Their only concern is killing, destroying and ruining" the psyches of Gazans, said Raghed Ghabn, a resident who returned to his home to find it vandalised by Israeli soldiers.

Members of the army have damaged homes in the enclave, filing them with disrespectful logos and statements after people were forced to flee. Some Gazans have been displaced more than once since the war erupted on October 7.

Mr Ghabn, from Bait Lahiya in northern Gaza, returned to his home after Israeli soldiers withdrew from the area and was relieved to find the building was still standing despite Israeli air strikes across the enclave. But what he saw inside the house forced him to return to the Jabilia refugee camp.

“When we returned, we found all the pictures of my son, who was killed in the war, smudged, and some of the photos were used by the soldiers to wipe their dirt,” Mr Ghabn told The National.

The soldiers drew “insulting phrases on the walls of the house in a very vulgar way", he said.

At first, Mr Ghabn and his family did not understand the phrases and had to ask for them to be translated. “When I learnt their translation, I cried because it was humiliating to my son,” he said.

Samer Akkil, from Tal Al Zaatar, also discovered phrases written by soldiers on the walls of his home.

“We tried to translate some of them with the help of a neighbour who speaks Hebrew to understand their meaning and found out phrases like 'Death to Hamas' and 'Hamas is terrorism'," he told The National.

“Some soldiers wrote obscene words on the walls, insulting the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza. There were also threatening and intimidating words directed towards Palestinians on the walls."

The Israeli army also occupied Al Saftwai area north of Gaza city, which became a scene of heavy fighting, with graffiti written across the neighbourhood.

“In our area, we found soldiers had written many phrases and drawn maps and operation plans on the walls of houses and streets,” resident Yahia Madi told The National.

Mr Madi said residents were cleaning their homes and the walls of the area, which were covered with black spray paint. The Star of David often accompanied the graffiti.

“Honestly, much of what was written we couldn't translate, and some was in Arabic. But, overall, the talk was derogatory towards Arabs and Muslims,” he said.

Momen Hijazi, from Tal Al Zaatar, said he was disturbed by the behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards civilians in the area.

“It was a tough feeling, truly, when we found the walls of our neighbourhood were turned into drawing papers by the occupation soldiers,” he told The National.

“They drew the Star of David, defaced buildings and created shapes that insult Arabs. They left phrases in Arabic like 'Hamas kills the people' and 'We will take revenge against you', among others."

Updated: February 12, 2024, 10:52 AM