Israeli Army
© Israeli Army/AFPThis handout picture released by the Israeli army shows a soldier manning a machine gun turret atop a humvee while operating in the Gaza Strip on 14 June 2024
Israeli soldiers tell +972 Magazine it's 'permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman'

The Israeli army approved a "free-for-all" for its soldiers in Gaza that allowed for the almost indiscriminate killing of civilians, according to army sources.

Israeli soldiers told +972 Magazine that they had regularly executed Palestinian civilians just for entering an area the military defined as a "no-go zone".

Two soldiers also described a systematic policy of setting Palestinian homes on fire after occupying them.

Often, the sources said, soldiers would fire at random to blow off steam.

"I personally fired a few bullets for no reason, into the sea or at the sidewalk or an abandoned building," said an Israeli reservist who served in northern Gaza.

"They report it as 'normal fire', which is a codename for 'I'm bored, so I shoot'."

Another soldier said "there was total freedom of action" in Gaza.

"If there is [even] a feeling of threat, there is no need to explain - you just shoot," said the soldier.

"It is permissible to shoot at their centre of mass [their body], not into the air - it's permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman."

The death toll in Gaza has continued to climb since 7 October, with the Palestinian health ministry saying the total now stands at 38,152, most of whom are women and children.

A letter written by experts and published in the British medical journal The Lancet warns that the actual death toll of Palestinians killed in Gaza could exceed 186,000, underscoring the staggering impact of Israel's invasion and bombardment of the enclave.

The letter emphasised that Palestinian health ministry's figure is likely to be a dramatic underestimate and does not account for the thousands of people buried under the rubble or for the mounting "indirect" deaths as a result of Israel's destruction of Gaza's food distribution, healthcare and sanitation systems.

"The total death toll is expected to be large given the intensity of this conflict; destroyed health-care infrastructure; severe shortages of food, water, and shelter; the population's inability to flee to safe places; and the loss of funding to Unrwa, one of the very few humanitarian organisations still active in the Gaza Strip," the letter said.

The letter estimated that the number of bodies still buried in the rubble is likely to exceed 10,000, as at least 35 percent of Gaza's buildings have been destroyed, according to UN data.