Dozens of Palestinians have been pictured stripped to their underwear, bound and lined up on their knees, after reportedly being captured by Israeli soldiers in northern Gaza.
Footage shared by Israeli media appears to show Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops rounding up scores of men and transporting them on the back of trucks.
The men are believed to have surrendered in the Jabalia refugee camp and other areas around northern Gaza, with Israeli outlet Walla saying they were stripped ‘to rule out the possibility that they were carrying weapons’.
Dozens of captives are reported to have been paraded through Palestine Square in Gaza City, with shoes and sandals strewn across the street in one image.
When asked about the images, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari seemed to confirm that the men had been taken prisoner but did not clarify whether those pictured were members of Hamas or civilians.
Dozens of captives are reported to have been paraded through Palestine Square in Gaza City, with shoes and sandals strewn across the street in one image
Footage shared by Israeli media appears to show Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops rounding up scores of men and transporting them on the back of trucks
One image shows scores of Palestinian men stripped down to their underwear as Israeli soldiers stand guard
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israeli troops have detained and interrogated hundreds of people in Gaza suspected of militant links.
Hagari told reporters: ‘Jabalia and Shejaiya are ‘centres of gravity’… for terrorists, and we are fighting them.
‘They are hiding underground and come out and we fight them. Whoever is left in those areas, they come out from tunnel shafts, and some from buildings, and we investigate who is linked to Hamas, and who isn’t. We arrest them all and interrogate them.’
Walla outlet claimed on Wednesday afternoon that Israeli soldiers from the 261st Reserve Brigade had arrested those pictured and were ‘investigating’ them.
The news site reported that those arrested were not expected to be moved to Israel but investigated in Gaza ‘since there is a likelihood that the suspects are innocent people living in a humanitarian shelter in the vicinity’.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the men were captured from UN-run schools in the north of the territory.
The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news outlet said its correspondent Diaa Al-Kahlout was among those detained and had been taken to an unknown location.
Israeli forces have encircled major urban centres as they seek to destroy Hamas over its unprecedented attack on October 7, when terrorists broke through Gaza’s militarised border to kill around 1,200 people and seize hostages, 138 of whom remain captive, according to Israeli figures.
Since Israel began bombarding the small enclave in response, more than 17,170 Palestinians have been killed and 46,000 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry.
It comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his strongest public criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war on Hamas in south Gaza, said there was a gap between the government’s declared intentions to protect civilians and the casualties.
‘As we stand here almost a week into this campaign into the south, it remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection,’ Blinken said after meeting British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Washington.
‘And there does remain a gap between… the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.’
It emerged last night that Blinken had told the Israeli government that he expects it to end the war in Gaza within the next month amid concerns over the growing death toll there.
A picture taken in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 7, 2023
Rubble of destroyed buildings lies at the site of Israeli strike in n Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday
Palestinians wounded in Israeli strikes receive treatment at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday
Palestinians evacuate a wounded man following Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday
People mourn as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in an airstrike on Friday in Khan Yunis, Gaza
The Israeli military shared a video and surveillance pictures (pictured above) on X today and wrote: ‘Yesterday, at 15:59, Hamas terrorists launched 12 rockets towards Beer-Sheva’
During meetings last week, sources who were present told The Times that Blinken made it clear that Israel would have until January to finish its ground operation against Hamas terrorists.
Blinken stressed that while the US supports Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas, the heavy death toll in Gaza means that President Joe Biden expects the war to end three months after it began.
Meanwhile, Biden spoke separately by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday.
Biden ’emphasized the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities,’ the White House said.
But despite the US warnings, Israel pressed on with its offensive in and around Gaza’s main cities today as the death toll rose to more than 17,000 according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Early Friday, the health ministry reported another 40 dead in strikes near Gaza City, and ‘dozens’ more in Jabalia and Khan Yunis.
Backed by air power, tanks and armoured bulldozers, Israeli troops are fighting in Khan Yunis, the biggest city in southern Gaza, as well as in Gaza City and Jabalia district in the north.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday troops had closed in on the Khan Yunis home of Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, 61, vowing ‘it is only a matter of time until we find him’.
It comes as the armed wing of Hamas said on Friday it had repelled an an attempted hostage rescue by Israeli special forces in the Gaza Strip, inflicting several military casualties, and that a captive also died in the incident.
Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades said its fighters discovered a special forces unit mounting a rescue attempt and attacked it, killing and wounding several soldiers. It did specify the location of the incident.
It said a captive Israeli soldier was killed, naming him as Sa’ar Baruch, 25. Lists of the hostages published by Israel identify one of them as Sahar Baruch, a civilian student who was 24 when he was seized from his home during the deadly Oct 7 cross-border Hamas rampage that sparked the war.
The Israeli military, which freed a captive soldier in Gaza in late October and is waging a Gaza offensive designed in part to recover 138 remaining hostages, had no immediate comment.
Israeli military’s helicopter fires a rocket as it flies over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from southern Israel on Friday
An Israeli army self-propelled artillery howitzer fires rounds from a position near the border with the Gaza Strip
Meanwhile, Israel alleged today that Hamas had been seen launching rockets from humanitarian areas in southern Gaza.
The Israeli military shared a video and surveillance pictures on X and wrote: ‘Yesterday, at 15:59, Hamas terrorists launched 12 rockets towards Beer-Sheva.
‘The rockets were launched near the tents of Gazan citizens who were evacuated to the south of the Gaza Strip for their protection and near the UN facilities.’
As part of the post, the IDF shared pictures they said documented the launch site near tents of civilians evacuated from Gazan cities.
‘Yesterday at 12:52, Hamas launched a rocket from the humanitarian zone. The rocket landed in the Gaza Strip and put many Gazan citizens at risk,’ the IDF added.
This comes as the Israeli military has been widening its offensive in southern Gaza, which worsened the dire humanitarian conditions in the area.
The fighting has pushed Gazans south, turning Rafah near the Egyptian border into a vast camp for many of the 1.9 million displaced by the conflict – 80 percent of Gaza’s population.
‘Two months on the road, moving from one place to another. These are the hardest two months we have experienced in our lives,’ said Abdallah Abu Daqqa, displaced from Khan Yunis to Rafah.
The IDF hit Rafah twice overnight according to residents, as United Nations officials warned that there are no safe places left in the besieged territory.
United Nations officials say there are no safe places in Gaza nearly a week after Israel widened its offensive into the southern half of the territory.
Heavy fighting in and around the city of Khan Younis, where Israel has said Hamas leaders have strongholds, has displaced tens of thousands of people and cut most of Gaza off from aid deliveries.
More than 80 per cent of the territory’s population has already fled their homes.
Two months into the war, the grinding offensive has triggered renewed international alarm. U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council of an impending ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Gaza and urged members to demand a cease-fire.
Gutteres explicitly cited Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the secretary-general to bring to the council’s attention any matter which he believes threatens international peace and security.
The power has only been used a handful of times in the history of the world body.