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Ex-Israeli soldier mystified over Facebook uproar

JERUSALEM (AFP) - – A former Israeli soldier who posted on Facebook pictures of herself in front of blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinians appeared mystified on Tuesday by the uproar.

"What's wrong with that? I don't understand," Eden Abergil told Israel's army radio, clearly bemused by the fierce backlash.

"There was no violence in the pictures, there was no disrespect," she said defiantly. "I was simply photographed with him in the background."

Abergil posted pictures on her Facebook site showing her smiling and posing in front of three prisoners blindfolded and cuffed, with a caption that said: "The army, the best time of my life."

The incident drew a sharp response from the military, which slammed the pictures as "shameful behaviour" and said officials would be looking into the actions of the woman, who left the military last year.
 
It was also denounced by the Palestinians, with Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, saying the images showed how the occupation was corrupting Israelis.

"This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians," he said in a statement. "There is nothing in the world that can justify this humiliation that is part of the Israeli occupation practices on daily basis."

One photo shows Abergil crouching down in front of three seated Palestinian detainees -- one with white hair, another with a greying beard and a skullcap and a third, a younger man with black hair who is hanging his head.

All three are blindfolded and have their hands cuffed.

A second picture shows her sitting next to the black-haired man, twisting her head archly towards him.

All three pictures appear to have been removed from Facebook but are widely available on the Internet.

Abergil told the radio the photo was taken in 2008 near Gaza, without specifying exactly where, and those pictured were Palestinians "who crossed the fence" -- in an apparent reference to Gazans caught sneaking across the border into Israel.

It was not clear whether the Palestinians were detained for security reasons or because they were seeking to work illegally in Israel.
She said a total of three pictures had been taken, and that she had not spoken to the detainees.

"I was photographed innocently, naively, without any political significance. There was no violence -- it was just about the good experience of being in the army, that's all."

The images were first broadcast on Israeli public television late on Monday, prompting an angry response from Israeli rights campaigners.
"This reflects an attitude which has become the norm and consists in treating Palestinians like objects, not like human beings," said the head of the Israeli Committee Against Torture, Yishai Menuchin.

His comments were echoed by Khatib.

"These Israeli soldiers are almost teenagers, or a little bit older, and they find themselves in a powerful position, being able to dominate others. This corrupts young people," he said.

"Occupation is humiliating and oppressive to the occupied people but it also corrupts the occupier in too many different respects, including this one."
 
Source: Yahoo News

From another article:

"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!""
Tags: human rights, israel, palestine
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