Fury over Israel Facebook photos
2010-08-18 0:00

By Diaa Hadid | YahooNews.com

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.

In this undated photo, originally posted on a Facebook page belonging to Eden Aberjil, and taken from the Israeli blog site sachim.tumblr.com, an Israeli army soldier poses in front of blindfolded men identified in the Israeli new media as Palestinian prisoners. Israeli news media and bloggers have identified the soldier in the photos as Aberjil. (AP Photo/sachim.tumblr.com)

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.

The Hebrew in the top right translates as, ’Eden Arberjil’s photos - army...the best time of my life.’

The incident was a reminder of the fraught relations between Israeli soldiers and the West Bank Palestinians under their control.

Israeli soldiers have run into trouble on the social media sites like Facebook and YouTube before. Most recently a group of combat soldiers were reprimanded for breaking into choreographed dance moves while on patrol in the West Bank town of Hebron. The dance featured prominently on YouTube.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib condemned the photos and said they pointed to a deeper malaise — how Israel’s 43-year-old occupation of Palestinians has affected the Israelis who enforce it.

"This shows the mentality of the occupier," Khatib said, "to be proud of humiliating Palestinians. The occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting."

The Israeli military also criticized the young woman, who Israeli news media and bloggers identified from her Facebook page as Eden Aberjil of the southern Israeli port town of Ashdod. No official confirmed her identity.

"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.

It was not clear whether the army could punish the woman, because she has finished her compulsory military service.

The comments by the woman and her friend in an exchange below one photograph suggested how casually the picture was treated, including jokes and sexual innuendos.

"You’re the sexiest like that," her friend wrote.

"I wonder if he’s got Facebook!" the woman in the photograph responded.

"I have to tag him in the picture!"

Aberjil did not respond to reporters’ questions Monday.

The photographs were a reminder of snapshots taken in 2003 by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that showed Iraqi detainees naked, humiliated and terrified. In that case, some soldiers went to prison after the photos came to light.

The photographs of the Israeli soldier and the Palestinians, by contrast, show no overt physical abuse or coercion of the prisoners, although they are ridiculed in the comments between the soldier and her friends.

Palestinians are routinely handcuffed and blindfolded when they are arrested to stop them from trying to flee.

Article from: news.yahoo.com

Israeli soldier refuses to apologise over Facebook photos with Palestinians
From: BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

A former Israeli soldier who posted photos on Facebook of herself in uniform smiling beside bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners has admitted her actions were “thoughtless”, but she stopped short of apologising.

Both the Israeli army and Palestinian officials condemned Eden Aberjil over the photos — one of which was accompanied on Facebook by an exchange with a friend including jokes and sexual innuendoes.

Aberjil called her decision to post the photos, taken in 2008 near the Gaza Strip, “thoughtless and innocent”. But she added: “I still don’t understand what wasn’t ok. There was no statement in the photos about violence, about disrespect, about anything that would hurt that person. I just had my picture taken with someone in the background,” she told Israel’s Army Radio. However, “when I understood that so many people were hurt by those pictures, I removed them”.

In a separate interview, Aberjil lashed out at the international uproar over the pictures, reminders of the snapshots taken in 2003 by American soldiers at an Iraqi prison showing Iraqi detainees, humiliated and terrified. However, the Israeli pictures showed no signs of physical abuse or coercion.

“I did not humiliate those detainees. I didn’t hit them, I didn’t act toward them unpleasantly. It’s completely different than the American soldier some are trying to compare me to,” she told Israel Radio.

She said she was shocked by the international interest, and claimed such things happen “every day” in the Israeli army.

Palestinians are routinely handcuffed and blindfolded when they are arrested to stop them from trying to flee.

One photo showed Aberjil sitting beside a blindfolded Palestinian man slumped against a concrete barrier, while she leans towards him. Another shows her smiling at the camera with three blindfolded Palestinian men behind her.

The photos, taken in 2008 near the Gaza Strip, drew sharp criticism from the Israeli military, pro-Palestinian advocacy groups and Palestinian officials.

Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli combat officers that criticises Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, said the pictures showed how Israel’s occupation of Palestinian areas has become “so routine... you lose the ability to see them as human beings”.

Captain Barak Raz, an Israeli military spokesman, said the pictures amount to “a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code”.

It isn’t clear if the army can punish Aberjil because she has finished her compulsory military service.

Extract from the Facebook posts:

Friend1: “You look so sexy like that?”

Eden Abergil: “Yeah I know .... what a day it was...look how he completes my picture, I wonder if he’s got Facebook! I’ll have to tag him in the picture! lol”

Friend2: “LOL you psycho? I wonder who’s the photographer”

Friend2: “...He’s got a ****-** for you? lol for sure!”

Eden Abergil: Lol no honey he’s got a ****-** for you this is why you took that picture lol you took my picture!!!!”

Article from: BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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