TEL AVIV—There's the Israel Defense Forces's official messaging about its war against Hamas, and then there are the photographs and videos coming from the front line.
As Israeli soldiers have laid waste to Hamas's Islamist terror state in the Gaza Strip, they have sometimes deviated from the IDF's somber wartime tone with irreverent displays of Jewish power. On social media this week, those displays included troops flying an Israeli flag on the dais of Hamas's parliament, blessing a house with a Jewish prayer scroll, and holding a mini-rave in honor of their friends who were slaughtered at a dance party on Oct. 7.
An IDF spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon that the unauthorized images do not necessarily reflect the military's values and standards.
"We as an army act only to neutralize and destroy terrorist infrastructure and terrorists," the spokesman said. "We do not attack something to improve morale."
Nonetheless, on the home front, Israelis celebrated the battlefield dispatches as evidence that Hamas's barbaric Oct. 7 terrorist attack, which triggered the war in Gaza, will not achieve its goal of ending Jewish life in the Middle East.
Israeli news in recent days was filled with photos of members of the IDF’s Golani Brigade conquering former Hamas governing institutions in Gaza: the military college, the so-called governor's house, and the parliament.
— איילת שקד Ayelet Shaked (@Ayelet__Shaked) November 13, 2023
"We take those photos to give the people of Israel strength," a Golani commander told the Free Beacon, noting that his battalion lost dozens of soldiers on Oct. 7 and several more in the war. "After the country took such a heavy blow, every soldier understands what it means to fly the Israeli flag from where Hamas brought all that evil into Israel."
The commander requested anonymity because he did not have permission to speak publicly.
Danny Kushmaro, an anchor for Israel’s N12 news station, expressed the general public's reaction to the photos: "Well done to the fighters of Golani. They are fighting hard, and it is an achievement that brings a lot of respect."
Next, Kushmaro suggested, the Hamas "buildings should be photographed from all angles as they fly into the air in an extravagant explosion. Not because we enjoy such footage—although we do—but because eliminating such Hamas symbols sends a message to the Palestinian people that the landlord is dead. It's a message to all our enemies. It has psychological value to lift those places into the air—one big boom, and very photogenic, please."
Shahar Glick of Israel's Army Radio posted a photo to X, formerly Twitter, that he captioned: "IDF soldiers left a [Star of David] stamp on the destroyed Qatar embassy in the Gaza Strip this morning."
חיילי צה"ל השאירו הבוקר חותמת על שגרירות קטאר ההרוסה ברצועת עזה pic.twitter.com/bKgCvas61o
— שחר גליק Shahar Glick (@glick_sh) November 13, 2023
Another photo that drew attention online shows an Israeli soldier sitting in front of a bombed-out building that is daubed with Hebrew: "We've started speaking Arabic. Welcome to hell!"
In a popular video, Givati Brigade soldiers ceremonially affix a mezuzah, or Jewish prayer scroll, to a doorpost of an abandoned house in Gaza before breaking into "Am Yisrael Chai," or "The Nation of Israel Lives."
Other photos and videos document how Israeli soldiers claimed a Gazan beach in the name of the victims of the Oct. 7 Nova festival massacre, which left at least 260 Israeli revelers dead and many others abducted.
אור צוק מכפר עזה שהוריה נרצחו ביקשה נוף לים. בינתיים החיילים שלנו דאגו לה ל״נובה ביץ׳״ כחול לבן 🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/Ohy6w9dC6V
— almog boker (@bokeralmog) November 12, 2023
A Nova-festival-themed video tribute features one soldier working the turntables as others dance—interspersed with clips of Israeli military strikes on targets in Gaza.
נובה עזה התחלנו
״עם ישראל חי״ pic.twitter.com/ICwslR91bH
— Haimon (@Haimon100) November 16, 2023
The IDF closed out the week by posting unusually provocative footage of its own. On Friday, the military shared a video of Golani battalions holding a memorial ceremony for the 72 soldiers they have lost since Oct. 7.
״הרחבה ממנה יצאו מחבלים ארורים לטבח של ה-7.10 נמצאת כעת בידי לוחמי גולני" - בעומק הרצועה, ברחבת המסדרים של מוצב החמאס קיימו לוחמי חטיבת גולני טקס קרבי לזכר חבריהם שנפלו בקרבות מתחילת הלחימה: pic.twitter.com/XMyZ0eafRr
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי - Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) November 17, 2023
According to the military, the event took place at the base from which "the damned Hamas terrorists" set out to kill and abduct Israelis. The tracks of Israeli tanks carved a massive Star of David into the earth outside the outpost, where Hamas once held its own ceremonies.
"You would maybe expect that a brigade that took such a strong hit would go a little way back, rest a little bit, train a little bit," the Golani commander told the Free Beacon. "That's not the case as you can see. We're just pushing forward."