IDF opens probe after social media posts show troops burning Quran, other books in Gaza

IDF says ‘severe’ incidents are ‘inconsistent with values’; Military Police’s findings to be submitted to Military Advocate General for review

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An IDF soldier seen throwing a Quran into a fire in Gaza. (X screengrab)
An IDF soldier seen throwing a Quran into a fire in Gaza. (X screengrab)

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that the Military Police was investigating incidents in which soldiers filmed themselves burning books, including a Quran, during operations in the Gaza Strip.

Footage of the book burnings were taken by the soldiers, uploaded to social media, and later recirculated by Palestinian accounts.

One video, reportedly taken in the Rafah area, apparently showed a soldier holding a Quran before tossing it into a fire.

Another image, reportedly from Al-Aqsa University in Gaza City, showed a soldier posing in front of a bookshelf that was set on fire.

Responding to incidents, the IDF Spokespersons Unit said the Military Police had launched probes, the findings of which would be submitted to the Military Advocate General for review.

It said the “severe” incidents are “inconsistent with the values ​​of the IDF and its protocols.” On the Quran burning, the IDF said it “respects all religions and condemns such behavior completely.”

IDF Spokesperson Adm. Daniel Hagari put out a statement several months ago calling on soldiers not to film themselves if the documentation does not serve an operational purpose, saying such actions violate the military’s commands.

Despite this, and calls by other top officers, troops continue to take and share such footage online.

Earlier in the month, a leaked clip showed a tank crushing an “I love Gaza” sign during the Israeli capture of the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

In March, photos and videos of IDF soldiers playing with lingerie found in Gaza went viral, leading to widespread condemnation.

In February, the IDF’s top lawyer, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, issued a warning to commanders against illegal actions carried out by troops in the Gaza Strip.

She specifically mentioned “the use or removal of private property for non-operational purposes and destruction of civilian property contrary to protocols,” adding some acts may even be considered criminal.

War broke out between Israel and Hamas following Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, in which terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 252, while committing widespread atrocities and sexual assault.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting since the beginning of the Israeli offensive, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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