Storm over Israeli 'Abuse' Photos

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Al-Jazeera - English

Storm over Israeli 'Abuse' Photos

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Ex-Israeli soldier 'Eden', whose Facebook photo features Palestinian prisoners.

 A former Israeli soldier has sparked controversy
after posting pictures of herself on Facebook posing with bound and
blindfolded Palestinian prisoners.

The photographs show Eden Abergil positioned provocatively with the
men, prompting lurid comments from other users of the popular social
networking site.



The pictures, which were uploaded into a folder
entitled "Army - the best time of my life," and associated comments were
discovered by bloggers, who circulated them on the internet on Monday.

Palestinians have long claimed that they are subject to humiliating
and degrading treatment while held in Israeli custody, but Israeli
authorities have always rejected such allegations.

The Israeli military has sought to distance
itself from the controversy, saying Abergil is no longer a serving
member of the country's army.  

"This is shameless behaviour by the soldier," a military spokesman told Al Jazeera.

"In
light of the fact that she was discharged last year, all of the details
have been turned over to the commanders for further attention."

Humiliating treatment

Abergil was discharged from the military a year ago, meaning
authorities had no power to prevent her from posting the pictures on the
internet. 

The photographs were removed from the website late on Monday.

But Ghassan Khatib, the Palestinian Authority spokesman, said that
the images typified the treatment meted out to Palestinians by Israeli
troops.  

"This is an example of life under occupation," he said. 

"All
aspects of occupation are humiliating. We call on the international
organisations, starting with the UN, to work hard to end the occupation,
because it is the source of humiliation for Palestinians and a
source of corruption for the Israelis."

Sami Ershied, a lawyer based in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera that the pictures show illegal activity.

"It's illegal to humiliate prisoners in this way," he said.

"It's illegal to publish these pictures in public showing this soldier making fun of these prisoners."

Special unit

It is not the first time that the Israeli military has been embarrassed by material posted on the internet.

In
March, officers were forced to call off a raid in the West Bank after a
soldier posted details, including the time and place, of the operation
on Facebook before it took place.

Earlier this year, the Israeli military set up a special unit to monitor information posted online.

Members of the unit scan websites including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace looking for sensitive or embarrassing material.

Israeli authorities have issued strict instructions to soldiers
regarding the type of information and photographs that they may post
online about themselves and their military service. 

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