Jerusalem CNN –

Images from Gaza circulating on social media on Thursday showed a mass arrest of men by the Israeli military, who were forced to strip down to their underwear, kneel in the street, wear blindfolds and pack them into the back of a military vehicle.

The exact circumstances and dates of the arrests are unclear, but the identities of some detainees have been confirmed by colleagues or family members.

At least some of the men are civilians with no known affiliation with militant groups, according to a CNN interview with one of their relatives and a statement from one of their employers, a news network.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor released an image of an arrest and said in a statement on its website Thursday that “the Israeli army has detained and severely ill-treated dozens of Palestinian civilians.”

“Euro-Med Monitor has received reports that Israeli forces have launched arbitrary and indiscriminate arrest campaigns against displaced people, including doctors, academics, journalists and elderly men,” it said.

The Israel Defense Forces did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the images. CNN geolocated some of the images to Beit Lahia, north of Gaza City.

The Israeli media, without citing a source, portrayed the images as a surrender by Hamas members. A journalist asked IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari about the images during a press conference on Thursday, saying: “We have images of many prisoners, Hamas terrorists , who were captured by the IDF during the ground exercise.”

Hagari said that in the fight against Hamas, “those who remained in the area are gradually coming out.”

“We research and check who has ties to Hamas and who doesn’t,” he said. “We arrest them all and question them. We will continue dismantling each of these fortresses until we are finished.”

In a statement on Thursday, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said that one of its correspondents and several members of his family were among those arrested who were part of the incident depicted in the images.

“Today, Thursday, the Israeli occupation army arrested journalist and head of The New Arab’s Gaza bureau, our colleague Diaa Al-Kahlot, from Market Street in Beit Lahia, along with a group of his brothers, relatives and others Civilians,” Al-Araby Al-Jadeed wrote.

“The occupation deliberately forced Gazans to remove their clothing, searched them and humiliated them when they were arrested, before taking them to an unknown destination, people there told us.” Images and video clips were circulated that show soldiers detaining dozens of Gaza citizens using criminal and degrading methods.”

Hussam Kanafani, the editor-in-chief of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, said in the statement that Al-Kahlot and his family were still missing.

“We will make every possible effort, in cooperation with international institutions and organizations that care about the rights and freedoms of journalists in the world, to determine the whereabouts of our colleague Diaa and release him as soon as possible,” Kanafani said.

CNN spoke to a relative of other detained men, Hani al-Madhoun, from his home in the United States.

“Israeli forces came onto the street and called on all the men to leave, and they obeyed,” al-Madhoun told CNN. “This house was their refuge after both of our houses were destroyed.”

Al-Madhoun said he was in contact with his sister, who is in Gaza.

He said he recognized his cousin Aboud in one of the photos and saw his brother Mahmood in a video. He said that Mahmoud was a shopkeeper and Aboud “was not involved in any activities; He helps his father with the construction.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Source : www.cnn.com

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