Israeli comedian slammed for ‘disgraceful’ mock tour video amid Gaza ruins

In a damaged Gaza hotel that he says is in ‘south of Israel,’ Guy Hochman – on reserve duty as ‘chief smiles officer’ – displays ‘Arab-Nazi kitchen with an oven for burning people’

A screenshot from a mock video tour of a damaged hotel in Gaza created by Israeli comedian Guy Hochman on January 6, 2024. (used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot from a mock video tour of a damaged hotel in Gaza created by Israeli comedian Guy Hochman on January 6, 2024. (used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israeli comedian Guy Hochman sparked outrage over the weekend when he posted a video in which he gave a mocking tour of a damaged Gaza hotel while in the Strip under the aegis of the military.

The video, which was removed Sunday, drew fire for what critics said was a racist depiction of Gazans and for appearing to champion Israeli resettlement of the Strip, damaging Jerusalem’s attempts to deflect claims that it has designs on a long-term reoccupation of Gaza.

Titled “Tourism Blogger in Gaza: POV,” the Hebrew-language video took viewers around a building damaged in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, with Hochman, in an Israel Defense Forces uniform, derisively presenting it as the “Gush Katif Hotel.”

The name, spray-painted on a wall of the building, referred to the bloc of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip evacuated by the Israeli government in 2005.

“Hey guys, so as part of our tourism blog, we’ve arrived today at a wonderful place in the south of Israel – Gush Katif Hotel,” Hochman said. He then showed viewers around a series of damaged rooms.

A picture taken from Rafah on January 6, 2024 shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo by AFP)

Pointing to windows with no panes left in them, Hochman said it was “clearly an Arab architect” who designed the hotel. Also displayed was a “classic Arab-Nazi kitchen with an oven for burning people.”

The video ended with Hochman showing a “pastoral view” of a nearby Gaza beach with an Israeli flag, “so that all the Nazis don’t forget who the landlords are here.”

“All this is of course free when you use the ‘Free Palestine’ coupon code,” he quipped.

Hochman had taken down the video by Sunday morning as outrage over its content spread among both Israeli and Palestinians critics. Nonetheless, copies of it remained online with subtitles in English.

An unidentified military official told Channel 12 News that the issue of the video was being taken seriously and expressed concern that it was damaging to Israel’s international standing.

Among the backlash to the video, one critic on social media suggested in Hebrew that the comedian was “begging the International Court of Justice in The Hague to include him in its prosecution materials.”

The ICJ is set this week to hold hearings on an accusation by South Africa that Israel is perpetrating genocide in Gaza, partially based on bombastic comments from Israeli leaders seeking to punish the territory following Hamas’s October 7 massacres inside southern Israel.

Other commenters said Hochman’s comments about the architect and the kitchen were racist.

Palestinians at the site of a destroyed building from an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 5, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Israel-Hamas war began with the terrorist organization’s unprecedented attack which resulted in the deaths of some 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians slaughtered amid brutal atrocities, and with around 240 others taken hostage, of whom 132 remain in captivity, not all of them alive.

In response, Israel launched a war on Hamas with the stated intention of eliminating the Gaza-ruling terror group and releasing the hostages.

The ensuing relentless bombardment and ground invasion has killed at least 22,722 people in the Strip, Hamas has said. The figure cannot be verified, doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants, and includes Palestinians killed by errant rocket fire from within Gaza. Israel says it has killed 8,500 terror group operatives in Gaza since the start of the war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that beyond maintaining security control over Gaza, Israel will not administer the Strip once Hamas is removed from power.

However, far-right lawmakers from his coalition, including Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir and Religious Zionism party head Bezalel Smotrich, have in recent weeks called for Israel to encourage “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

Others have expressed hopes to reestablish civilian Israeli settlements in the enclave.

According to Israeli media, Hochman was called up for reserve duty as “chief smiles officer.” As part of this position, he has gone in and out of the Gaza Strip since November to perform for soldiers.

Early last week, Hochman posted a video of himself stripping down to his underwear on the Gaza beach and running into the water, saying that “Gaza is Israel’s.”

In a statement following the backlash, the comedian initially said he had “military approval” to enter the building. According to Channel 12 News, the approval came from a brigade commander who did not have the authority to grant it.

Hochman did not specify whether the content he uploaded on social media went through a military vetting process or whether he was free to post anything he created.

“If a senior officer demands [my presence], I show up,” the comedian added. “It’s the least I can do after Hamas terrorists, who are residents of Gaza, murdered my ex. In the last three months, I’ve given all my time and efforts to raising the soldiers’ morale, and I will do so anywhere as long as I’m needed.”

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