An Israel Defense Forces soldier has posted an Instagram photo of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle, prompting angry criticism after it was picked up by The Electronic Intifada and other news sites around the world over the weekend.
"This is what occupation looks like," representatives of Breaking the Silence, a group of IDF combat veterans who aim to raise public awareness of what happens in the territories, said on the group's Facebook page. "This is what military control over a civilian population looks like."
The advocacy group said the image shows that not much has changed in the decade since a similar photograph taken by a soldier was displayed in the organization's first public exhibit in 2003.
"There, too, an Israeli soldier aimed a weapon at a boy and took a picture with his camera as a memento, a gesture of an endless feeling of power that is connected to control over another people," read the Breaking the Silence Facebook page. "Ten years have passed. The devices and the applications have changed; the ways in which pictures are shared has changed. The feeling of excessive power and the clear contempt for human life and human dignity have remained."
The soldier, whose actions "are not in accordance with the spirit of the IDF or its values," according to the army, has since deleted his Instagram account.
The IDF said the soldiers' commanders have been informed of the incident, which it said would be investigated.
In a separate incident, the Infantry Corps soldier who took a picture of himself standing next to cuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees and posted it on Facebook was recently sentenced to 14 days in a military prison, the army said. The photo was removed from Facebook.
A criminal investigation was initially opened by the army, the IDF said, but has since been closed because the soldier who posted the photo on Facebook has already been sentenced and has not committed a criminal offense.
A similar decision was reached two years ago, when a similar photograph by a female soldier posing next to bound Palestinian detainees caused controversy in Israel and abroad. At the time, the deputy state prosecutor decided that the incident was subject to disciplinary proceedings but not criminal ones.
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