Probe signals IDF toughening stance against Gaza violations

IDF opens criminal investigation into video of reservist threatening mutiny

Clip posted to social media, shared by PM’s son, shows masked soldier warning troops will not obey orders if gov’t doesn’t pursue ‘complete victory’ over Hamas, demanding Gallant quit

A screenshot of a video purporting to show an IDF reservist in Gaza threatening mutiny published on May 24, 2024. (Screencapture/X: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot of a video purporting to show an IDF reservist in Gaza threatening mutiny published on May 24, 2024. (Screencapture/X: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israeli military said Saturday that it was opening a criminal probe into a video shared online showing a masked reservist threatening mutiny if the government doesn’t pursue what he defined as “complete victory” over Hamas.

“The behavior in the video is a serious violation of IDF orders and IDF values, and constitutes a suspicion of criminal offenses,” the military said in response to a query on the matter.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the Military Advocate General has ordered an immediate Military Police investigation into the clip.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has also ordered commanders to immediately speak with their subordinates regarding the video, at all ranks, “given the severity of the incident.”

In the video, first shared on social media by far-right journalist Yinon Magal and later republished by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair,  a masked reservist soldier demands that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant quit and threatens to defy orders if the government doesn’t pursue “complete victory” over Hamas.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the video is for you. We reservist soldiers do not intend to hand the keys over to any Palestinian authority. We do not intend to give the keys to Gaza to any entity — Hamas, Fatah or any other Arab entity. Reservist soldiers are behind you and we want to win,” the soldier said, speaking from what appears to be a ruined building in Gaza.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you have 100,000 reservist soldiers that are ready to give their lives for the people of Israel. Ready to die. We lost everything, we lost our family life, we lost our livelihoods and we have nowhere to go. We will stay here, until the end. Until the victory,” the reservist soldier states.

“Yoav Gallant, you can’t win the war. Quit. You can’t win this war. You can’t command us,” the reservist says.

The soldier vowed to refuse Gallant’s orders and asserted that soldiers will only listen to Netanyahu. He threatened that the 100,000 reservist soldiers would station themselves at the border and not move, and call on citizens of Israel to join them there if the government steps back from the goal of completely eliminating Hamas.

“Think really well who you leave the keys to after this. We want victory. Our brothers and sisters did not die for nothing, weren’t raped for nothing, and were not slaughtered in their beds for nothing,” he said, referring to the IDF casualties in Gaza and the atrocities of Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

The military probe signals a further shift in IDF policy, taking a stronger stance against violations by soldiers serving in Gaza.

The IDF until recently largely ignored cases of soldiers violating military behavioral regulations, such as graffitiing political statements on walls and publishing videos of vandalism, even as top officers warned against the practices.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated picture published on May 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In addition to the latest probe, in the last few days, the IDF opened two more investigations after clips circulated online showing troops burning books, including a Quran, indicating a sudden change in the unwritten policy of mostly ignoring such cases.

While top officers warned soldiers against such actions during the beginning of the war, it was believed that the IDF was too preoccupied with the fighting to handle them, as military activity in some areas of Gaza has become similar to routine security operations on other fronts, the IDF appears to be beginning to crack down on such behavioral violations.

In the mutinous video, the soldier was apparently referring to the deepening rift between Gallant and Netanyahu over the “day after” the war in Gaza, and various options of who will govern the Strip.

Responding to the clip, Opposition Yair Lapid warned videos calling for rebellion within the Israeli military were “dangerous and disastrous,” regardless if they were authentic or staged.

In a post on X, Lapid said the “enthusiastic” sharing of the video by Netanyahu supporters demonstrated “another attempt to escape responsibility for the one who led to the biggest disaster in the history of the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” referring to the premier’s repeated refusal to accept responsibility for the October 7 atrocities.

“This insanity should be stopped. This government needs to be removed from our lives before it destroys everything that is true and sacred to this country,” he wrote.

Gallant made a public appeal to Netanyahu earlier this month, saying in a speech that he must take “tough decisions” to advance non-Hamas governance of Gaza, whatever the personal or political cost because the gains of the war are being eroded and Israel’s long-term security is at stake.

Gallant warned in his address that he will not consent to Israeli civil or military governance of Gaza, and that governance by non-Hamas Palestinian entities, accompanied by international actors, is in Israel’s interest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

Netanyahu quickly retorted that he was “not prepared to switch from Hamastan to Fatahstan,” referencing the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu and his government have long faced criticism over their refusal to make a plan for the management of the Strip after the war, and the prime minister has refused to hold substantive cabinet discussions on the matter due to concerns they could collapse his coalition amid opposition from the far-right.

Netanyahu has rejected efforts to include the Palestinian Authority in postwar planning, arguing that the more moderate foil to Hamas, which publicly backs a two-state solution, is no different from the Gaza-ruling terror group in that it too refuses to accept Israel’s existence and promotes hatred of the Jewish state.

The IDF has also been hampered in its efforts to defeat Hamas by widescale international pressure not to conduct a full-scale military campaign in Rafah in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians were sheltering.

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