'Facebook photos of soldiers posing with bound Palestinians are the norm'
Rights group Breaking the Silence refutes IDF claim that photos posted by female soldier under the heading 'the time of my life' are an anomaly.
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.
Photographs uploaded by Eden Abergil released earlier this week and labeled "IDF – the best time of my life," sparked massive public outrage. The photos depicted Abergil smiling next to Palestinian prisoners with their hands bound and their eyes covered.
A comment attached to one of the photos of the soldier smiling in front of two blindfold men and posted by one of Abergil's friends read "That looks really sexy for you," with Abergil's response reading: "I wonder if he is on Facebook too – I'll have to tag him in the photo."
An IDF spokesman had issued a response on Monday, saying that "on the face of it the behavior exhibited by the soldier is base and crude."
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 [viewer discretion is advised].
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."
Speaking to Army Radio earlier Tuesday, Abergil, whose Facebook photos caused a worldwide media storm, said she still couldn't see what was wrong with the images, saying the "pictures were taken in good faith, there was no statement in them."
Referring to the possibility that the images could injure Israel's image in the international arena, Abergil said: "We will always be attacked. Whatever we do, we will always be attacked."
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