As Israel describes forcing Hamas from Gaza, there’s been a question hanging over its operation: How to accomplish the task in a strip of land containing more than 2 million people?
As IDF’s bombing campaign turned into a ground incursion, with troops taking over entire neighborhoods, some Gazan residents have wondered whether Israel will start arresting any Palestinian man who looks like they could be connected to Hamas.
On Thursday, a video emerged of men rounded up, forced to stand in formation, and then to sit down in the street, wearing nothing more than underwear while soldiers with guns watched over them.
When asked by ABC News about the images and video, IDF responded saying “During combat in Shejaiya, Jabalya and Khan Yunis, IDF troops apprehended hundreds of terror suspects.”
Hamas also released a statement regarding the images circulating online, saying the unarmed civilians pictured, were not a part of the ‘resistance.’
ABC’s Foreign Correspondent James Longman spoke with "Start Here" Friday about those images and the reaction from the international community.
START HERE: James, can you describe what we’re seeing?
JAMES LONGMAN: Yeah, they're incredibly disturbing images, actually, Brad. Rows of men in their underwear kneeling with their hands behind their backs, surrounded by Israeli soldiers. Others are being loaded onto military vehicles. This is all happening in northern Gaza. You can see kind of the destruction all around them, burnt-out buildings, the debris in the streets. And the Israelis say these are Hamas terror suspects. They say they've captured more than 150 of them. This is them taking them into detention.
The men are cowering, they're staring at the ground. And I think these are images that have shocked a lot of people because these are men who are clearly being humiliated. And a lot of people have come forward to say that they recognize men in these videos who are not terrorists, who have nothing to do with Hamas. And they say they're angry at the Israeli response.
START HERE: James, so you've talked to people who say that they know people in these photos?
LONGMAN: Yeah. Well, first of all, the Committee to Protect Journalists has come forward to say that they have identified a Palestinian correspondent, Diaa Al-Kahlout, as among those detained. They have demanded that he be released.
And we've actually spoken to a man in Washington, D.C., Hani Almadhoun, and he says he could see his brother in that video.
HANI ALMADHOUN (interview with James Longman): We just happened to see that video and then: Oh, crap. This is my brother; this is my nephew.
LONGMAN: Again saying that he is not a terrorist, and he poses absolutely no threat.
ALMADHOUN: My brother Mahmoud may not like school, but he is not a danger to anybody.
LONGMAN: And actually, he recognizes a lot of the people in the video because they're in his neighborhood.
ALMADHOUN: They got everybody out, stripped them down into their unmentionables in the blistering cold, which is inhumane if you ask me. I'm sure they're going to find a million security reasons for that mistreatment.
LONGMAN: This is an example, he says, of Israel's overreaction, and rather than going after Hamas necessarily, this is, in his words, collective punishment. Hani has lost one brother already, has been killed in in the bombardments. Another brother of his is in the hospital, and this is a third brother now being detained by the Israelis.
START HERE: What is the IDF saying about sort of these detentions when we're talking about lots of people who are quickly apparently identifiable?
LONGMAN: We pressed the IDF on the claims that these men are linked to Hamas. And they were very clear with me. They say that Israel does not, "arrest, apprehend or target anyone in the Gaza Strip that is not a Hamas terrorist or doesn't pose an imminent threat to Israel." They say that anyone who is impacted in this way is the fault of Hamas because they launched the Oct. 7 attack. This is the line that the Israelis have stuck to, whether it's the deaths of more than 17,000 people in Gaza or the detention, as we're seeing in these videos of people inside Gaza. All of it, they say, is down to Hamas, and the consequences of that Oct. 7 attack.
We do know that some of these men were released after having been detained initially. One of Hani's cousins was released after a couple of hours in detention. So it may be that many of these men that we've seen in these videos have since been released by Israel but, according to the people we've spoken to, it seems that they have gone from house to house, apartment to apartment and arrested all of the men who remain.
This is northern Gaza we're talking about. They were given an evacuation order, and it might be that the Israelis feel anyone who remains poses a threat because they didn't leave. Well, there are a lot of people in the north who couldn't leave.
START HERE: I guess you think about it from the Israeli perspective. They’ve also seen people butchered and killed. In fact, there continue to be these graphic videos emerging from the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. Obviously Palestinians are seeing death every day in some of these neighborhoods, but we've also seen this in other conflicts where sometimes these images of moments of humiliation can be so powerful and notorious in their own right. What happens when the rest of the world sees images like this?
LONGMAN: That is exactly what Hani mentioned to me.
And he says, well, these are abuses, in Hani's words, which have gone on for many, many years in this part of the world. Abuses of power by the Israelis that go unchecked by the rest of the world. It happens that the world is watching more closely now following those attacks on Oct. 7. But he said to me he doesn't expect anything to happen.
ALMADHOUN: Nobody is coming to rescue for the people of Gaza. We're literally starved, people are dehydrated. This is not a secret, this is common knowledge and people are OK with it.
LONGMAN: Because so many have already died inside Gaza and yet there is still no agreement to stop Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip. So, yes, it's causing outrage in some circles, but many will still say Israel has a right to defend itself, whatever that looks like.
ALMADHOUN: And you do not want your kids to take away the wrong lessons for what they are seeing. Our daughter said, "Oh I hate Israelis," and I said, "No wait, wait, this is not about hatred."
LONGMAN: Hani did say to me, though, that these sorts of activities by the Israeli forces perpetuate extremism, perpetuate hate, because these men, these young men, some of them children, go home angry at what's happened to them, angry at having been humiliated. And so he says that this is not Hamas that is suffering. This is regular Palestinian people.
Video of Palestinians stripped, forced to sit outside by IDF soldiers raises ire originally appeared on abcnews.go.com