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Israel-Palestine war: Israeli soldiers set up Chabad House in damaged Gaza homes

Israeli soldiers create an Orthodox Jewish centre in abandoned homes in Beit Hanoun, raising fears that Israel may plan to stay longer in Gaza
Israeli soldier announcing the creation of the chabad house in gaza
Israeli soldier poses behind the 'Chabad House' in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza (Social media)

Israeli soldiers transformed a home in northern Gaza into “the first Chabad House in Gaza,” according to a report by The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

The soldiers, followers of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement of Judaism, took the pictures in the city of Beit Hanoun and the image has now become a viral post on social media.

Chabad is considered a conservative Orthodox sect of Judaism whose leaders in Israel have long opposed the formation of a Palestinian state, or territorial concessions to Palestinians.

The sect has a complicated relationship with Zionism, opposing the celebration of Israel’s independence day, the singing of the national anthem and the raising of the flag, while strongly supporting the Israeli army.

Chabad Houses are centres that offer kosher foods, prayer space and other religious services to local and travelling Jews.

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Figures in the sect have already boasted of potentially hosting celebrations in these houses in Gaza, including lighting Hannukah candles.

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The move follows several stunts by Israeli soldiers during their ground invasion of Gaza, such as the setting up of menorahs on top of abandoned buildings and drawing stars of David with their tanks on razed ground.

Over 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been internally displaced, fleeing Israeli bombardments and incursions since the war started.

The conflict in Gaza started when a Hamas-led assault on southern Israel killed over 1,200 people on 7 October. Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza, along with its ground invasion, has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians including 6,150 children.

Incidents like those described above increase fears that Israel could potentially be planning a long-term presence in Gaza.

“A completely unnecessary propaganda move,” Dr Andreas Krieg, a fellow at King’s College London’s Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, said on X about the creation of the Chabad House.

“Considering that [Chabad] isn't a Zionist organisation, this move potentially puts 1,000s of Jewish Chabad houses in the world at risk, misunderstood as a tool of Israeli statecraft.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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