AP
A photo originally posted on a Facebook page belonging to Eden Aberjil shows what Israeli media reports say is the former Israeli army soldier posing with Palestinian prisoners. The Hebrew in the top right translates as, "Eden Arberjil's photos - army...the best time of my life."
msnbc.com news services
updated 8/16/2010 4:33:37 PM ET 2010-08-16T20:33:37

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.

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."

Photo of Israeli soldier posing with Palestinian prisoners
AP
Photo, originally posted on a Facebook page belonging to Eden Aberjil and taken from the Israeli blog site sachim.tumblr.com, shows an Israeli army soldier with men identified in the Israeli new media as Palestinian prisoners.

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 innuendoes.

"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.

Israel controls much of the occupied West Bank captured in a 1967 war that Palestinians want as part of a future state along with the Gaza Strip and a capital in East Jerusalem.

In cases where Israeli soldiers and police suspect Palestinians are involved in security breaches, they are sometimes bound and blindfolded while waiting to be taken for questioning.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Israeli soldier's photos cause scandal

  1. Closed captioning of: Israeli soldier's photos cause scandal

    >>> a former israeli soldier's posting of photos on facebook has caused quite a political firestorm in the middle east . the photos show a female israeli soldier smiling beyond a bound and blindfolded palestinian prisoners. the controversial images grew sharp criticism from both the israeli military , as well as palestinian officials. bloggers have drawn parallels with the abu ghraib prison scandal in iraq. martin fletcher joins us with the latest. is this how this is being seen, israel's version of abu ghraib ?

    >> the girl had no idea what a couple pictures on her facebook page would start. death threats , threats of legal action and now she is too scared to leave her house. the young woman left israeli army last year and posted a couple pictures, her sitting next to palestinian prisoners and handcuffed and blindfolded. she thought they were just members of the army. they are calling the photos another example of how they humilliate pal stillians. her action was "thoughtless and innocent" and she took down the photos, but the damage was done. another example of the power of facebook and she refused to apologize. she said she hadn't harmed anyone. i didn't humiliate them or act towards them unpleasantly. but a former israeli officer said it shows how the israeli occupation became so routine. imagine if she had been a prisoner handcuffed, blindfolded and her pictures on the internet, how would she feel then? the israeli army is angry, too. because she's no longer a soldier, not clear what they can do about it. other israeli soldiers posted 11 more photos on the internet showing blindfolded, injured and dead palestinians. pictures much worse than began the fuss.

    >> martin fletcher , thanks so much for that update.

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