Israeli Military Created ‘Kill Zones’ in Gaza With Orders to ‘Shoot to Kill’ – Report

The Israeli army created “kill zones” in the enclave with orders to “shoot to kill” anyone who enters them. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“As soon as people enter it, mainly adult males, orders are to shoot and kill, even if that person is unarmed.”

As the death toll continues to climb in the besieged Gaza Strip, it has emerged that the Israeli army created “kill zones” in the enclave with orders to “shoot to kill” anyone who enters them, according to a report by Haaretz.

One particular incident is the video footage aired by Al Jazeera recently in which four unarmed Palestinians seen walking along a destroyed area in northern Khan Younis are tracked and then killed in a drone attack.

At first, the Israeli military claimed “a terrorist who had fired” a rocket was identified and “an air force aircraft attacked and eliminated him,” according to the Israeli newspaper.

However, following the surfaced footage, a senior Israeli military officer told Haaretz that “this was a very grave incident,” adding that “they were unarmed, they didn’t endanger our forces in the area in which they were walking.”

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An intelligence officer also told the Israeli paper that it was unclear whether the men were involved in the rocket launch, saying they were simply the people who were closest to the launching site. They could just have been out looking for food, the report said.

‘Astonishing’ Reports

While the Israeli military claims to have killed “9,000 terrorists” in Gaza, “it’s quite possible that Palestinians who never held a gun in their lives were elevated to the rank of ‘terrorist’ posthumously,” at least by the military, according to Haaretz.

The paper spoke to several reserve and standing army commanders who cast doubt on the claim.

“In practice, a terrorist is anyone the IDF (Israeli army – PC) has killed in the areas in which its forces operate,” a reserve officer who served in Gaza stated.

He said the reports were “astonishing” and that “you don’t need to be  a genius to realize that you don’t have hundreds or dozens of armed men running through the streets of Khan Yunis or Jabaliya.”

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‘Clear Red Lines’

The crux according to Haaretz is not what a Palestinian did, “but where he was killed,” and here the term “combat zone” is key.

“This is an area in which a force sets itself up, usually in an abandoned house, with the area surrounding it becoming a closed military area, but with no clear marking as such.”

Quoting a reserve office, the paper said another term for such areas is “kill zones.”

“In every combat zone, commanders define such kill zones,” the officer said. “This means clear red lines that no one who is not from the IDF may cross, so that our forces in the area are not hit.”

The boundaries of these kill zones are not determined in advance, nor is their distance from the house in which the forces are situated, according to the report.

Ultimately, such boundaries “and the exact procedures of operation are subject to interpretation by commanders in that specific area,” Haaretz said.

“As soon as people enter it, mainly adult males, orders are to shoot and kill, even if that person is unarmed,” the reserve officer explained.

Captive Soldiers Shot

This brings into question the shooting and of at least three Israeli soldiers held captive in Gaza by its military, “since in fleeing from their captors the three entered a kill zone in the middle of the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City,” Haaretz said.

The military claimed it shot the soldiers by mistake, igniting anger among Israelis, that their military is not only failing to rescue the captives but is actively killing them as well.

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A soldier from a reserve brigade told the paper “For our commanders, if we identified someone in our area of operation who was not part of our forces, we were told to shoot to kill.”

“We were explicitly told that even if a suspect runs into a building with people in it, we should fire at the building and kill the terrorist, even if other people are hurt.”

Disturbing footage also emerged last week of two unarmed Palestinian men being shot in an open area in northern Gaza, whilst holding a white flag. Their bodies were subsequently bulldozed by the Israeli forces.

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No Rules of Engagement

A reservist who until recently was in northern Gaza told Haaretz “The feeling we had was that there weren’t really rules of engagement there.”

“I don’t remember anyone going over the details with us after every incident,” he added.

This the paper said corresponded with the views of a senior defense establishment official who said “It appears that many combat forces are writing their own rules of engagement.”

The Israeli Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi was informed of the situation at the beginning of the war, a senior defense official told Haaretz.

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He said that when it was realized that the rules of engagement in Gaza are subject to interpretation by local commanders, “the chief of staff came out in the clearest manner against the killing of anyone entering a combat zone”.

“Regrettably, there are still commanders, even senior ones, who do as they please in their conduct in the Gaza Strip.”

According to the report, civilians are “supposed to remain in and around humanitarian shelters. These are areas in which the IDF does not create combat zones.”

“If we were there for a month or two, you could stick with the order that anyone approaching should be shot,” an officer told the paper. “But we’ve been there for six months, and people have to start coming out; they are trying to survive, and that leads to very serious incidents.”

‘Kill Zones’ Undefined

A senior military commander that Haaretz spoke to, said that “in many parts of northern Gaza there are civilians who are not in these humanitarian shelters.”

“Some of them simply returned to or stayed in their houses to protect their property from pillage, concerned that someone else would take over their house while they fled.”

He estimated that “there were incidents in which civilians tried to reach areas they thought the army had left, possibly in the hope of finding food left behind,” the report said.

“When they went to such places, they were shot, perceived as people who could harm our forces,” the commander said.

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An Israeli military spokesperson told Haaretz “In contrast to claims being made, the IDF has not defined ‘kill zones’.”

He insisted that the military had arrested “a large number of terrorists or suspected terrorists … without inflicting damage in intense combat zones.”

In response to the footage of the four unarmed Palestinians killed in the drone attack, the spokesperson claimed that Israeli forces had “many encounters” with “terrorists who fight and move in combat areas, while dressed as civilians.”

Over 32,800 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,845 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,392 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in the enclave.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle) 

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1 Comment

  1. Sounds like Kafr Qasim. Or this “Shocking images of bodies of civilians in the streets of Bucha, near Kyiv, have led to an outpouring of international condemnation of Russia
    US President Biden calls Vladimir Putin a war criminal – and says he should face trial over the incidents.” BBC, 5 Apr 2022. Except that Joe Biden lacks the required pair to face down Netanyahu.

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