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War on Gaza: Israeli army chief urges soldiers to stop looting Palestinian homes

Herzi Halevi's comments come after footage revealed Israeli soldiers stealing necklaces, furniture and pets
Footage shared on social media shows Israeli soldiers setting fire to scarce food and water supplies in the Gaza Strip (X/Screengrab)

The Israeli army's chief of staff has warned soldiers against looting homes in Gaza after numerous videos emerged showing houses being vandalised and ransacked.

According to the Israeli Ynet news website, Herzi Halevi has asked commanders and soldiers to refrain from theft, unnecessary graffiti on the walls and a "breakdown of discipline".

He pointed to several videos posted online that showed violent and provocative acts that appeared to have little to do with furthering the stated aim of destroying Hamas. 

In one video, a soldier boasts about stealing a silver necklace from Gaza to take back to his girlfriend in Israel. Another video shows a soldier stealing a rug from a Palestinian home, and a third shows a soldier stealing a traditional mirror from a house.

Other videos show an Israeli officer stealing make-up to take as a gift to Israel and a soldier setting fire to food and water supplies.

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Theft and vandalism

In January, Israel's head of the Antiquities Authority backtracked after he appeared to announce that Israel was displaying some stolen artefacts from Gaza in the Knesset.

He had published photos and videos on his Instagram account saying that his deputy went to Gaza to inspect the antiquities, which were reported to have been displayed in the Israeli parliament.

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According to Ynet, Halevi's comments were not welcomed by many commanders, who believe they will affect the morale of the Israeli soldiers.

However, he still insisted that such behaviour should be immediately stopped.

In the first days of the war, Israeli soldiers were not allowed to carry their phones with them in the field, but the restriction appears to have fallen.

Earlier in January, the Gaza government media office said the Israeli army had, since 7 October, looted money, gold, and artefacts worth around $25m.

The media office said it had "dozens of testimonies" provided by residents of the Gaza Strip regarding the thefts.

"Theft operations occurred in various ways, the first of which was at the checkpoints, such as Salah al-Din Street, where they stole from the displaced people who had moved from the northern Gaza Strip to the south, their bags containing their valuable possessions such as money, gold, and artefacts," the office said in a statement.

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