Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Israel accused of staging footage of stripped Palestinians surrendering weapons

Israel's military has been accused of staging footage showing stripped Palestinian men handing over weapons in the Gaza Strip.

In a video shared on Saturday, scores of men wearing only their underwear are seen next to an Israeli tank holding up their identification cards.

One of the men proceeds to walk forward with his arms in the air in a surrendering motion, before placing at least one gun on the ground.

The Palestinian man in the video was identified as Moin Qeshta al-Masry, the owner of a local aluminium workshop. The video was taken in front of a United Nations-run school in Beit Lahia, north of Jabalia refugee camp.

In two separate clips shared online, Masry can be seen handing over a gun with his left hand, and then again with his right hand. An investigation by Al Jazeera’s fact-checking unit found that it was two takes of the same video.

Marc Owen Jones, academic and commentator who writes extensively about online disinformation, posted a thread on X, formerly Twitter, suggesting Israeli troops temporarily armed a civilian for the purpose of a “photo shoot”.

In the footage, an Israeli soldier can be heard telling Masry: “Grab the gun I gave you, don’t shoot. Walk slowly, and leave it on the ground on the other side.”

Jones also pointed out that it would appear illogical for Israeli troops to remove the clothes of the detainees while they were still armed.

A BBC Verified report suggested that both clips were part of the same continuous sequence, and three guns were handed over in total.

“I don’t really understand the one continuous take argument. It seems to be splitting hairs,” Jones told Middle East Eye.

“The fact is they seemed to be using him to fetch guns for the purpose of propaganda film. Obviously whether they reshot or filmed it continuously seems irrelevant.”

The BBC report stated that Masry was being held at gunpoint and issued directions by Israeli officers, raising questions about whether he was “surrendering” weapons.

“Given he is already in his underwear and he cannot have been concealing them on his person, it’s unlikely Israeli troops did not know about these weapons, suggesting this may be performed for the camera, rather than as an act of authentic surrender,” the investigation added.

Last week, images and videos emerged showing Israeli troops detaining dozens of Palestinian men, stripping them of their clothes and forcing them to sit lined up on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

Israeli media suggested that the men were Palestinian fighters, but provided no evidence.

i24News, an Israeli broadcaster, said Saturday’s video showed “another batch of Hamas jihadists surrendering to the IDF in Jabalia”.

MEE obtained a list of full names, ages, and professions of 25 people among those arrested by Israel last week.

That list, as well as eyewitness accounts, indicate that those detained are academics, journalists, teachers at UN-run schools, school students, blue-collar workers, and employees with the Palestinian Authority.

Among the detainees were Darwish al-Gherbawi, 58, a school principal; Ahmed Akram Mohammed Lubbad, 35, a teacher; Youssef Khaled Mohammed Lubbad, 15, a student; Tamer Omar Surour, 35, a barber; Atiya Faye Lubbad, 43, a tailor; Ibrahim Abdul-Raouf Lubbad, 35, a computer engineer; and university students Abdullah Akram Lubbad, 19; Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Raouf Lubbad, 19; Hamza Jamil Lubbad, 19; and Jihad Abdul-Raouf Lubbad, 22.

On Thursday, Israel’s broadcasting authority noted that the Israeli military has jailed around 700 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and placed them in administrative detention since 7 October.

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