Since the onset of Israel's colonisation of Palestine in 1948, innumerable visual records, photographs, and televised footage have documented wide-scale, disproportionate violence marked by humiliation and inhumane conduct by the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinian civilians.

Notably, in many cases, the victims were defenceless childrenwomen, the elderly, and those with disabilities.

On 8 October, the Israeli government launched a major military assault on Gaza, declaring its objectives as liberating the Israeli captives and dismantling Hamas, although several leaders, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, made clear their genocidal intent.

Two months later - with more than 20,000 Palestinians killed - it appears that the Israeli government is failing to achieve its goals. The shocking level of carnage and destruction has triggered massive protests worldwide and international condemnations of Israel's genocidal war.

The staggering death toll, particularly of children, attacks on the Occupied West Bank, and wanton violations of international law, including the targeting of hospitals and placing a siege on food, water, and fuel, have raised questions about the intended outcome of Israel's war against Palestinians.

In light of mounting domestic and international pressure, the Israeli government has been working to craft a narrative to justify the extreme violence it continues to inflict on more than 2.3 million residents in Gaza in the name of fighting the threat of "Hamas terror".

Systematic degradation

Historically, there have been numerous instances of militaries punishing civilian populations and subjecting them to sadistic and degrading treatment after failing to attain their political or military objectives.

Israel employs a systematic strategy of humiliation to psychologically impact and break down Palestinian individuals and communities

In response to global calls to halt its deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, the Israeli government continues to desperately establish the purported military presence of Palestinian armed factions within major hospitals across the strip.

This effort materialised in an intense aerial and artillery shelling campaign on hospitals, including Gaza's main medical complex of al-Shifa. The attacks, targeting patients and displaced individuals within hospitals, extended to the detention, mistreatment, and exploitation of doctors as human shields.

In a disturbing turn of events, Israeli soldiers blocked medical staff from retrieving the bodies of victims from hospital courtyards, leaving them exposed to animals for an extended period.

In other incidents, eyewitnesses testified to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor that Israeli soldiers assaulted and humiliated Palestinian civilians using the designated "safe corridor" to evacuate Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, heading to the south.

One eyewitness account stated that an Israeli soldier ordered a Palestinian man to strip while awaiting checkpoint approval. When another Palestinian questioned the soldier's actions, he was fatally shot in the head with onlookers, including his family, barred from providing assistance or recovering his body.

In a distressing series of events, accounts emerged of Israeli soldiers subjecting displaced women to degrading treatment and humiliation in the designated safe corridor. Reportedly, two displaced women were ordered at gunpoint to undress in front of hundreds of onlookers before being permitted to redress and continue their journey southward.

Additionally, in the northern Gaza Strip, a woman who was five-months pregnant recounted an incident where an Israeli officer ordered her to take her clothes off and threatened her with rape if she did not comply.

More recently, circulating video footage, purportedly recorded by the Israeli military, depicts numerous Palestinian men detained and humiliated in the northern Gaza Strip.

The men were predominantly displaced individuals seeking refuge in residential buildings and UNRWA-run schools amid Israeli bombardment. They were shown shirtless and stripped down to their underwear, with their hands raised behind their heads. Israeli soldiers had lined them up on the street and taken photos and videos of them.

The videos were shared widely by Israeli media outlets and soldiers who have disseminated dozens of videos and pictures on their social media accounts, particularly since the ground invasion. In videos posted on TikTok and Instagram, they openly mock Palestinians as they celebrate the invasion of their neighbourhoods and beaches.

In other "scenes of victory", they planted Israeli flags on vital facilities and headquarters, residential buildings, courthouses and universities.

Contrary to the initial Israeli narrative locating the mass detention campaign in the Shujaiya neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City, and in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, subsequent revelations disclosed that the incident took place in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli sources said those detained were members of Palestinian armed factions. However, testimonies of eyewitnesses and members of the detainees' families collected by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor's team on the ground and other organisations and journalists confirmed that they were unarmed civilians, including teachers at the UNRWA-run schools (who are typically security-checked multiple times before and during their work period with the United Nations), journalists, and university students.

Settler-colonial violence

The initial misinformation, later corrected, is not only a result of Israel's attempts to demonise Gaza residents but is also indicative of a persistent endeavour to present an image of victory to its citizens and, most importantly, to its western allies.

It aims to provide supposed "proof" that its bloody military campaign, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and displaced hundreds of thousands more, was in fact meant to subjugate all Palestinians into subordination, and not simply “eradicate Hamas”.

Violence within settler colonialism is a peculiar breed. This brand of violence goes beyond mere dominance or cultural erasure; it aspires to reign over and obliterate not just communities, but the very essence of individual psyches. At its core, it seeks to humiliate. Israel employs a systematic strategy of humiliation to psychologically impact and break down Palestinian individuals and communities.

The objective is to instil feelings of shame and degradation, and potentially induce enduring psychological effects that erode Palestinian steadfastness and resistance. Despite being a consistently applied policy for the past seven decades, it has not succeeded in deterring the Palestinian population.

An essential question for Israel is to reflect on the implications of internalising and normalising practices that involve humiliating fellow humans and taking pride in such actions. This systemic violation of human dignity and justice demands a critical examination of its impact on Israeli societal norms and values.

Israel and its western backers like to compare its genocide in Gaza to the Allied campaign in Dresden.

But this is a false narrative. Unlike the Allies, who did not attempt to humiliate the people of Dresden, Israeli violence, particularly in its destructive power and evident desire to humiliate, is akin to the atrocities and humiliation witnessed during Kristallnacht.