Middle East

Israeli woman soldier denies Facebook photos wrongdoing

Eden Aberjil posing with Palestinian prisoners
Image caption The pictures were later removed from public view on Ms Aberjil's profile

A former Israeli soldier who posted pictures of herself on Facebook posing with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners says she did nothing wrong.

Eden Aberjil, 26, said she had had death threats over of the images and was surprised at the backlash.

She said the pictures had been taken to "remember the experience" in the army.

Speaking to the BBC, an army spokesman condemned what he called "shameful behaviour by a young soldier".

"It's a compulsory army and part of the soldiers do not understand the seriousness of the situation they are in and the duty they are given in the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces]," Capt Arye Shalicar told BBC World Service.

Israeli anti-torture activists said more needed to be done to teach soldiers respect.

Ms Aberjil said the pictures were not intended to be a political statement and the prisoners had been treated well.

It had "never occurred to her", she told Army Radio, that there might be a problem with the pictures, and she insisted had been a "model soldier".

Ms Aberjil has already been discharged from the army having completed her mandatory military service.

The pictures show her in uniform, smiling next to three bound and blindfolded prisoners.

Pictures removed

"There's no violence or intention to humiliate anyone in the pictures," she said.

"I just had my picture taken with them in the background. I did it out of excitement, to remember the experience."

Ms Aberjil had put the images in a Facebook album named "The army: the best days of my life" several weeks ago.

Their existence was reported by media on Monday, and they have now been taken down.

"I find it astounding that there are so many people who want peace and I'm the one ruining it for them," she said, adding that she had received "loads of death threats" but was not scared.

She said she was disappointed by the army's response to the pictures.

Condemning the photos, another army spokesman, Barak Raz, said they did not "reflect the spirit of the IDF, our ethical standard to which we all aspire".

Capt Shalicar said that one of the aims of the IDF was educational, teaching young conscripts what was right and wrong.

If Ms Aberjil was serving in the IDF today, he suggested, "most probably her commander would give her the right punishment and they would maybe put her behind bars for a few weeks".

'Humiliating'

Palestinian groups said the images were humiliating and revealed the "mentality of the occupier".

"This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians," Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib told the Associated Press news agency.

"The occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting."

A spokesman for the campaign group the Israeli Committee Against Torture, Ishay Menuchin, said the Israeli military needed to do more to stop the abuse of Palestinian prisoners.

"The problem is that they can condemn her, but they need to work and educate these soldiers that Palestinians are civilians with human rights and they should treat them as human beings, not as a background for a pose," he said.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites