Jerusalem: A rights group published new
photos of Israeli soldiers posing with a detainee and
vandalising a Palestinian home, in images apparently taken
during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
In one picture, a soldier points his assault rifle at the
face of a blindfolded detainee and in another an officer is
seen spray-painting a Star of David and "Back soon" on what
looks to be the wall of a home.
Others show soldiers smiling and posing inside what
appear to be Palestinian homes, and in one picture two women
can be seen preparing food in a kitchen.
Their release comes after a series of photos and videos
depicting Palestinian prisoners have gone public after being
posted on social network sites in a practice the military has
said it is trying to halt.
The latest images were acquired by Breaking the Silence,
a group of veteran Israeli combat soldiers who collect
testimonies and photos of troops who have served in the
Yehuda Shaul, a founding member, declined to reveal the
source of the photos, but said the group has received dozens
of similar pictures that point to a widespread phenomenon.
"It`s the norm in the Israeli military, and it`s a direct
consequence of being in a place where you control and rule
civilians on a daily basis," he said.
"You become corrupt, and you are not able any more to see
them as human beings like you."
The Israeli military issued a statement in which it
faulted the group for making the photos public before bringing
them to its attention, adding that "as in all previous cases,
anomalous incidents are investigated."
It went on to stress that "in no way, shape or form do
pictures such as these reflect the values that the soldiers
and commanders who fill our ranks are taught beginning with
basic training and up through the most senior level."
Shaul said the group decided to release the photos after
previous incidents which the military characterised as
"Playing around with detainees is something we have
dozens of photos about. That`s the reality. That`s the nature
of the occupation," he said.
He added that the group was still trying to determine
exactly when and where the photos were taken, but that they
appeared to feature the same units, weapons and surroundings
of other pictures taken during the Gaza war.
Israel launched a massive 22-day assault on the
Hamas-ruled territory in December 2008 in a bid to halt
near-daily rocket attacks. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13
Israelis were killed in the fighting.