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IDF distributed Gaza destruction photos to motivate reservists - report

IDF distributed Gaza destruction photos to motivate reservists - report
The IDF, which has engaged in relentless efforts to dominate social media information flows during the Gaza assault, now stands embarrassed after distributing before and after photos of the destroyed Gazan neighborhood to motivate soldiers fighting there.

Scenes of destruction from tank and missile shelling of Gaza City's Shejaia neighborhood – home to around 100,000 Palestinians – were distributed as a “victory memento,” as one IDF soldier called it, to a unit that fought there, Haaretz reported.

Official army sources confirmed the allegation to the publication, but refused to release copies of the pictures, originally part of an operational inquiry into the fighting in Shejaia that started on the night of July 20-21. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the matter is being investigated.

READ MORE:UN condemns ‘Shejaia massacre’ in Gaza, urges end to violence

One soldier from that unit told Haaretz that he was disturbed by such a “victory album,” even though he supports the Israeli offensive on the enclave and claims he would willingly participate in similar operations. Yet he says that “distributing such pictures as a souvenir is contrary to the IDF's ethos and does no honor to the brigade and its officers.”

The Israel Defense Forces command apparently did not know about the distribution of pictures from the internal report that looked into the Golani Brigade's actions in the neighborhood, as well as subsequent shelling. The images were allegedly distributed among Brigade 828, which was deployed at a later stage of the continued offensive, to motivate their fighting spirit there.

A Palestinian woman reacts next to the rubble of her relatives' house, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in the southern Gaza Strip July 21, 2014. (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

As Israel heavily shelled Gaza's eastern suburb of Shejaia while battling alleged Hamas militants in the bloodiest fighting in the 13-day offensive, officials said that 35,000 people fled the fighting as the artillery bombardment began. Over 60 Palestinians were killed during the shelling on that day.

World leaders and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killings on that day as an “atrocious action” of what has been referred to as a “Shejaia massacre.”

Meanwhile, UN Human Rights Council President Baudelaire Ndong Ella announced that a three-member commission panel has been formed to investigate human rights violations in the conflict-torn Gaza Strip.

The present Israeli offensive in Gaza that began July 8 in the restive enclave has killed over 1,900 Palestinians and left over 9,500 wounded – including around 2,800 children. Sixty-seven Israelis have also been killed since the start of the IDF operation. An Egypt-proposed 72-hour Gaza ceasefire is currently being observed. The agreement was reached on Sunday.