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War on Gaza: Palestinians condemn ‘kidnap’ of infant girl by Israeli officer

An Israeli soldier revealed last week that an officer took a Palestinian infant from Gaza after air strikes likely claimed the lives of her family
Israeli soldiers inside a building in Gaza
Israeli soldiers are photographed in the Gaza Strip on 30 December 2023 (Reuters)

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned on Tuesday the “kidnapping” of an infant Palestinian girl by an Israeli soldier in Gaza.

An Israeli soldier revealed last week that an officer, who was later killed in combat, took a Palestinian infant from Gaza after Israeli air strikes likely claimed the lives of her family. 

Shachar Mendelson, a friend of the soldier, told Army Radio on Sunday that Captain Harel Itach, from the Givati Brigade, who was killed on 22 November, took the Palestinian orphan back into Israel. 

“The kidnapping of the infant girl from the Gaza Strip is evidence that the occupation army is committing the most heinous crimes against civilians without oversight or accountability,” the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement. 

“The ministry calls on the occupation authorities to immediately hand over the infant to the Palestinian National Authority,” the statement added.

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At present, very little is known about the whereabouts of the baby girl, when exactly she was taken or who her family are.

Israel has not responded publicly to any of the allegations. The Army Radio clip was deleted after it became widely circulated.

Palestinian officials said that the act indicates that it was not the first or the last of its kind to be committed in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.

Children have been some of the most affected by Israeli military action in Gaza.

Since the start of the war on Gaza on 7 October, more than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Around 70 percent of those killed are women and children. 

According to the ministry, nearly four percent of the besieged enclave's population has been killed, wounded or is missing since the war began.

Psychological warfare

The Israeli military has also been carrying out acts unrelated to furthering their stated aim of destroying Hamas, including stealing from Palestinian homes, vandalising buildings and installing Jewish symbols in Palestinian neighbourhoods. 

Such behaviour has been blamed on indiscipline, but analysts believe it is also a form of “psychological warfare”. 

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In one example of theft, a soldier bragged about stealing a silver necklace from Gaza to take back to his girlfriend in Israel. Another soldier stole a rug from a Palestinian home.

In a post shared on a popular Facebook group, an Israeli officer gloated about seizing a host of sealed makeup items to take to Israel as “gifts from Gaza”. 

The top comment under the Facebook post read: “It's better if you delete the post... Gives us a bad name... not because I care about that Gazan woman, I wouldn't care if she never sees the light of day again, I care about the soldier who could be put on trial, and about the IDF's reputation."

Elsewhere, footage emerged of an Israeli soldier rummaging through a woman’s underwear and making derogatory remarks about her.

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

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