'Such postings demean Palestinian women and all women'

Photos, videos of IDF soldiers playing with Gazan women’s lingerie go viral

Military says breaches of orders and IDF code of conduct are dealt with, but does not say whether soldiers in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of views have been disciplined

An IDF soldier playing with lingerie in Gaza. (X screenshot)
An IDF soldier playing with lingerie in Gaza. (X screenshot)

IDF soldiers have been posting photos and videos of themselves toying with lingerie found in Palestinian homes, creating a dissonant visual record of the war in Gaza as a potentially looming famine intensifies world scrutiny of Israel’s offensive against the Hamas terror group.

In one video, a soldier sits in an armchair in a room in Gaza grinning, with a gun in one hand and dangling white satin underwear from the other over the open mouth of a comrade lying on a sofa.

Elsewhere, another soldier sits atop a tank holding a female mannequin dressed in a black bra and helmet and says: “I found a beautiful wife, serious relationship in Gaza, great woman.”

The two videos shot by Israeli soldiers are among dozens of posts in which troops in Gaza are shown displaying lingerie, mannequins, and in some cases, both. The lingerie images have been viewed tens of thousands of times — nearly half a million in one case — after being reposted by Younis Tirawi, who describes himself as a Palestinian reporter.

Approached about images he reposted to his more than 100,000 followers on X between February 23 and March 1, Tirawi provided links to the original posts by IDF soldiers. Reuters then independently verified eight posted on Instagram or YouTube.

“The posting of such images is demeaning to Palestinian women, and all women,” said Ravina Shamdasani, UN Human Rights Office spokesperson.

Reuters sent details of the eight verified posts on YouTube or Instagram to the IDF, requesting comment.

In response, a spokesperson sent a statement saying the IDF investigates incidents that deviate from the orders and expected values of IDF soldiers, as well as reports of videos uploaded to social networks.

“In cases where suspicion of a criminal offense arises that justifies opening an investigation, an investigation is opened by the Military Police,” it said.

“It should be clarified that in some of the examined cases, it is concluded that the expression or behavior of the soldiers in the video is inappropriate, and it is handled accordingly,” the statement said.

The IDF declined to say whether it was referring to any of the images highlighted by Reuters, or whether any of the soldiers responsible have been disciplined.

The soldiers whom Reuters was able to identify did not respond to requests for comment sent via their social media accounts.

Mannequins and underwear

The authenticated posts include a photo of a soldier holding a bare female mannequin from behind with his hands on its breasts and one of a soldier handling a half-naked doll.

One photo shows a soldier posing with his gun, making a thumbs-up gesture, in front of a double bed strewn with packets of women’s underwear.

YouTube said it had removed a video flagged by Reuters for violating the platform’s harassment policies, which prohibit content that reveals someone’s personally identifiable information. Instagram did not comment.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza was launched in response to an attack on Israel by the terror group Hamas on October 7 in which terrorists killed about 1,200 people and took 253 hostage.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the ensuing Gaza war launched by Israel, according to Hamas, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. At least 13,000 of those killed have been fighters, Israel says.

A team of UN experts said this month in a report that there were reasonable grounds to believe sexual violence, including rapes and gang rapes, occurred at several locations during the October 7 attack by Hamas.

The experts also said there was convincing information that some Israeli hostages taken to Gaza had been subjected to sexual violence, which may still be ongoing.

Amit Soussana, who was held hostage by Hamas prior to being released during a temporary truce in December, said this week she was sexually assaulted while in captivity.

The IDF on Thursday released interrogation footage of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist who was seen confessing to raping an Israeli woman in a kibbutz in southern Israel during the Hamas-led October 7 onslaught.

The lingerie and mannequin posts do not compare in gravity to the alleged crimes against women reported since October 7. Still, two legal experts said they potentially breached international law.

Ardi Imseis, an assistant professor of law at Queen’s University in Canada, said the posts violated Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the treatment of civilians in wartime.

Article 27 says civilians are entitled to respect for their honor, family rights, manners and customs, and must be protected against insults and public curiosity, and that women must be especially protected against any attack on their honor.

In February, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, the IDF’s military advocate general, said that she has “encountered cases of unacceptable conduct that deviate from IDF values and protocols.”

IDF Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tomer-Yerushalmi said they included “inappropriate statements that encourage unacceptable phenomena; unjustified use of force, including against detainees; looting, which include the use or removal of private property for non-operational purposes; and destruction of civilian property contrary to protocols.”

“Some incidents go beyond the disciplinary domain, and cross the criminal threshold,” she warned.

Also in February, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told soldiers: “We act like human beings and, unlike our enemy, maintain our humanity. We must be careful not to use force where it is not required, to distinguish between a terrorist and those who are not, not to take anything that is not ours — a souvenir or weapons — and not to film revenge videos.”

Halevi’s and Tomer-Yerushalmi’s comments came weeks after The New York Times published an article titled “What Israeli Soldiers’ Videos Reveal: Cheering Destruction and Mocking Gazans,” which showed photos and videos of Israeli soldiers making derogatory comments about Palestinians, vandalizing civilian property and smiling for the cameras while driving bulldozers and using explosives.

The report cited an IDF statement condemning the soldiers’ posts as “deplorable.”

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

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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