“It felt like a computer game”, Israeli soldiers describe shooting Palestinians in Gaza

Six Israeli soldiers have described a “shoot first, ask questions later” culture within the Israeli army in Gaza, according to an article published by Israel’s +972 magazine.

“It felt like a computer game,” one soldier identified only as A told the magazine, describing his experience working in an operations room. “Every once in a while, a building comes down… and the feeling is, ‘Wow, how crazy, what fun,’” he said.

Another soldier, identified only as M, described shooting as “very unrestricted” even when firing with “machine guns, tanks, and mortars.”

The soldiers interviewed included Yuval Green, a 26-year-old reserve from Jerusalem, who recently signed a letter from 41 reserve soldiers refusing to take part in the Rafah invasion, and five other soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity. Green was one of two of the soldiers who said unrestricted fire from fellow Israeli soldiers was the greatest danger they felt while in Gaza.

While speaking to the magazine, Israeli soldiers described the near-total absence of firing regulations in the Gaza war, with troops shooting as they please, setting homes ablaze, and leaving corpses on the streets — all with their commanders’ permission.

“There was total freedom of action,” said another soldier who served in the regular forces in Gaza for months, including in his battalion’s command center. “If there is [even] a feeling of threat, there is no need to explain — you just shoot.” When soldiers see someone approaching, “it is permissible to shoot at their center of mass [their body], not into the air,” he continued. “It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman.”

At least 38,193 people have been killed and 87,903 wounded in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza since October 7, 2023.