Israeli army cracks down on soldiers' controversial photos
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military prosecution Thursday asked to extend the remand of three soldiers after their photos of posing with a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian were found saved on their mobile phones last week, Xinhua reported.
The photos, in which the soldiers are seen pointing a gun at a suspected Hamas member, were apparently taken eight months ago in the West Bank town of Jenin.
Israeli Army Radio reported Thursday evening that the Palestinian was tracked down to Jenin. He told officials that, though blindfolded, he was aware of photographs being taken. He said, however, that he did not feel humiliated and was uninterested in pressing charges against the troops. The military prosecution is slated to file an indictment against the soldiers, who were put into custody last week, on charges of physical abuse, conduct unbecoming serving members of the IDF and illegal use of weapons.
An IDF spokesman told Xinhua on Thursday he cannot comment yet on the affair.
The soldiers took the photos "out of boredom and in search of fun, pointing a loaded gun at a man in custody," a military prosecutor said, the local Ynet website reported.
The lawyers for the soldiers claimed that the IDF is trying to restore its international image tarnished by 2008's Cast Lead incursion into Gaza, and most recently in the raid aboard the Turkish aid ship.
A lawyer representing the military prosecution admitted in court earlier in the week that the international public opinion must be considered when weighing in the request that the soldiers be put in custody.
"Following the Goldstone Report and the Marmara (Turkish aid ship) affair, in a time in which we as an army and a state are living under a sort of moral blockade, we as an army are being scrutinized under a magnifying glass," the prosecutor added.
The parents of the detained soldiers who attended the hearing lashed out at the charges. "The world public opinion does not interest me. They are among the finest of our soldiers and men," the father of a detained soldier said.
"My son did nothing wrong. I have another son serving in an elite unit. Both are sacrificing for the defense of the state. If not them, who will protect us?" one of the soldiers' mother remarked.
In a similar incident last week, a former Israeli soldier raised an international media storm after posting controversial photos of herself posing with Palestinian detainees on her Facebook page.
"It seems the IDF is in hysteria," one of the defense attorneys said. "Contrary to the soldier who uploaded her photos to Facebook, they kept the photos on their cell phones."