The Israeli military published the photograph of a combat soldier who shot and killed three Palestinian assailants in two incidents dover the last two weeks, sparking accusations by Palestinian news outlets that Israel is glorifying the killing of Palestinians and prompting calls for revenge on social media.
The photo of the soldier, who shot dead a Palestinian who attempted to stab a fellow soldier on Thursday, as well as two others who moderately wounded another soldier about 10 days ago, has been widely disseminated on Palestinian news websites and social media.
The English edition of the Palestinian news agency Ma'an posted the photo, reporting that the soldier was nicknamed "Terminator" on American Jewish media and that his actions were celebrated in Israel. The popular Facebook page Shihab News posted the photo with the caption: "Occupation vaunts soldier who killed three Palestinians near Gush Etzion Junction south of Bethlehem." The photo won 4,000 likes and was shared 400 times, and many commenters called for revenge.
The decision to distribute the photo raises some questions. First, the soldier remained unnamed, which seems absurd: If the army is interested in revealing the soldier's identity with a photo, it makes little sense not to release his name. In a similar case, when a Home Front Command soldier shot and killed a Palestinian who stabbed her friend near the Adam settlement, the IDF had no qualms about releasing her photo and her name. In the social media age, it is a little nave to think that once the soldier's photo is out, his full identity won't be revealed as well.
In 2011, when Israeli troops killed a Palestinian protester near the village of Nabi Saleh, an Internet campaign was launched in order to track down the soldiers, and photos of soldiers and officers were widely disseminated on Palestinian social media. At the time, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said they're following the events closely and are taking precautionary measures where necessary.
It seems that the decision-making process in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit regarding the publishing of these photos is related to how badly the soldier's units need PR (Kfir Brigade, Home Front Command, and Iron Dome, in an earlier incident). However, it seems the army didn't take into account the possible outcomes of releasing the photo on the Palestinian side.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit hasn't issued a response following the social media uproar.