August 20, 2010
A former Israeli soldier posted photos on Facebook of herself in uniform smiling beside bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners, drawing sharp criticism Monday from the Israeli military and Palestinian officials.
Israeli news websites and blogs showed two photographs of the woman. In one, she is sitting legs crossed beside a blindfolded Palestinian man who is slumped against a concrete barrier. His face is turned downwards, while she leans toward him with her face upturned. Another shows her smiling at the camera with three Palestinian men with bound hands and blindfolds behind her...
"These are disgraceful photos," said Capt. Barak Raz, an Israeli military spokesman. "Aside from matters of information security, we are talking about a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code and should this soldier be serving in active duty today, I would imagine that no doubt she would be court-martialed immediately," he told Associated Press Television News... (emphasis mine)
-- Eden Abergil Facebook Pictures: Israeli Soldier's Photos Cause Outrage; Huffington Post, 16 Aug 2010.
THE Israeli army is investigating claims that its soldiers are circulating "trophy" photographs of themselves posing next to dead and sometimes mutilated Palestinians.
The revelation, made by a group of Israeli soldiers last week, has heightened fears that young army recruits are inured to the violence they face routinely as the Palestinian uprising drags on into its second year.
The group told Kol Ha'ir a Jerusalem weekly newspaper, that they and their fellow soldiers often took pocket cameras on military missions and posed for pictures next to corpses of Palestinians.
The Israeli Defence Force said that it was investigating the report. It dismissed suggestions that "the phenomenon" of soldiers taking photographs was widespread. "The IDF is aware of only a few singular incidents that were the initiative of individual soldiers," it said in a statement....
Yoram, 20, an armoured corps soldier, told The Telegraph that he has seen between 40 and 50 photographs of soldiers posing next to dead Palestinians.
In the photographs he counted nine Palestinian corpses, many with their faces shattered and their features barely recognisable. He said: "I remember one terrible photo of the soldiers smiling like children as they stood on the bodies with their boots, really enjoying the moment" .
"One Palestinian had 15 bullets in his head and body. The soldiers said they had shot extra bullets into his body after he was dead. You could not recognise his face and his brain was on the ground.
"This is a thing of power for these soldiers who get a kick out of the pictures. They see it as a thing of honour if they get an opportunity to kill a guerrilla and pose for a photo next to them. You can feel the hatred in those photos."
The trend emerged in southern Lebanon during the Lebanon war when Israeli soldiers were pictured next to dead Hizbollah guerrillas, and it has apparently blossomed since the intifada began last September...
-- Israeli troops take 'trophy' photos of dead; The Daily Telegraph, 14 Oct 2001.
-- Photo: Israeli soldiers pose for pictures beside the body of a Palestinian gunman who was killed in an exchange of fire at a checkpoint at Baka a-Sharkiya, February 21, 2002 (Credit: unknown).
In an article that "came as a shock" to many Israelis, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronot on Friday published an article that detailed allegations that Israeli soldiers had taken "trophy photos" and "abused" the bodies of dead Palestinians killed during army operations. The newspaper reported the practice has become widespread in the Israeli army, and happens in "almost in any place where clashes erupt between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants."
In one case, soldiers posed for pictures with the head of a suicide bomber. In another, a Palestinian who was killed because he was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time became a running joke for members of one unit.
"Fire was opened at him from a heavy machinegun at military commands. After the soldiers reached the area they discovered a body without weapons or explosive belt.
"He's an ordinary man who did not know where to go. The soldiers then tied the body to a military jeep that drove to the outpost, where cameras were taken out and pictures were taken, immortalizing the new 'mascot' of this combat unit. Since that time, soldiers call the body of this Palestinian 'Haffi', which is a word derived from two Hebrew words meaning innocent"...
-- Israeli soldiers take 'trophy photos' of dead Palestinians; Christian Science Monitor, 22 November 2004. Cartoonist unknown.
-- Israelis' Trophy Photos With Dead Palestinians; International Press Centre via Newsmine, 21 Nov 2004.
Undated handout photos released by 'Yedioth Ahronoth' daily newspaper November 19, 2004 show Israeli soldiers posing with the body of a Palestinian gunman after a Palestinian attack in the greenhouses of the Israeli settlement of Gush Qatif, in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said on Wednesday it had launched an inquiry into allegations that soldiers posed and photographed the bodies of several Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (REUTERS/Handout/Yedioth Ahronoth).
For five years these photographs lay deep inside a drawer, in a place no one ever gets to, and Alon Kastiel didn't open the envelope... Last week he decided to give them to Haaretz, for publication in this column. Kastiel says he made the decision in the wake of the public furor that erupted after the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth published similar photos a few weeks ago, showing soldiers standing next to bodies of terrorists. He was especially incensed by the reaction of MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who said these were exceptional instances...
"I decided to come to you," he continues, "because I was boiling mad at the idea that people think these are isolated cases. I tell myself that we were from the best homes in the world, the best and most moral people on an everyday level. In Duvdevan, one is the son of a professor, another is son of the owner of a large printing press, and I myself am quite a `northie' [a person from affluent north Tel Aviv or its suburbs], the finest of the country's youth, really. If it happened to us, in our small, high-quality squad, with top-class guys, I have no doubt that it happens everywhere in the territories."
They went to the brigade base, dozens of wound-up fighters after a restless night. Then the military ambulance with the bodies arrived. "The bodies were unloaded next to the fighters. All the fighters were seized with enthusiasm. For most of us, I imagine, these were the first dead bodies we had ever seen. For me, at least, they were the first, but not the last.
"One of the soldiers started taking pictures with a small pocket camera. Very quickly there was a big demand for pictures. Then we took out our gear - there were a lot of cameras in the unit - and there was a hysterical demand to have our pictures taken. Everyone wanted pictures. We were all around the bodies. We spent hours next to the bodies, waiting for the operation to end officially and for all the fighters to return. We sat next to the bodies, we exchanged experiences, we looked, we played games with the bodies. I think they touched the bodies a little. The camera made that happen.
"We had a few rounds of pictures taken. It went on for maybe two hours. You have an hour and a half for being shocked and then it passes in the photograph. There was shock at the bodies, they were in an appalling state. There was a whole lot of ammunition in Batat.
"When we see a camera, everyone runs to stand behind the bodies, to be in the frame. A souvenir of one of the most dramatic nights of our lives. I, who was totally revolted by it, even then, didn't have my picture taken, but nevertheless a film made its way to me as the souvenir of a turbulent night. I am standing 20 centimeters from the frame. I am there. I didn't say a word, I didn't think about morality, it's bodies and not life, and your commander is having his picture taken with them and you never make a critical comment to a commander. All my commanding officers are there. It was in the center of the base and I am certain they all saw it. Dozens, maybe hundreds of soldiers around and they all saw the process of the picture-taking. I remember it bothered me a little, that thing, but there was tremendous commotion all around. I was part of it.
-- Text and photo from Pictures At An Exhibition; Ha'aretz, 23 December 2004. (via abudis.net)
Facebook photos depicting Israel Defense Forces soldiers pictured alongside handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees represent the norm, not the exception, in IDF conduct, an Israeli human rights group said on Tuesday, thus refuting an official army statement claiming the opposite....In a statement released Tuesday by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimonies of Israeli soldiers on alleged abuse of Palestinians in the territories, the group said that while the IDF claimed to be "shocked" by Abergil's photos, it did not represent "the ugly behavior of just one person."
The statement released in a Facebook page called "The Norm that IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu Denies," also included several graphic photos depicting soldiers posing next to the bodies of suspected militants as well as next to handcuffed detainees.In the Facebook page, Breaking the Silence said that the norms the photos allegedly expose were the" necessary result of a long-term military control of a civilian population."
"We suggest that the IDF Spokesman not insult the intelligence of the Israeli public, and clarify that it is a widespread phenomenon, not an aberration caused by a single soldier," the statement said, adding that the enclosed photos were taken at several times during the last ten years and represented only a "preliminary batch."
-- 'Facebook photos of soldiers posing with bound Palestinians are the norm'; Ha'aretz, 21 Aug 2010. Photo: Breaking The Silence.
Related: Israeli soldiers pose with dead Palestinians; Press TV, 18 Aug 2010: