Israeli Army to investigate 'trophy photos' of dead Palestinians.
by Tom Regan | csmonitor.com
In an article that "came as a shock" to many Israelis, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronot on Friday published an article that detailed allegations that Israeli soldiers had taken "trophy photos" and "abused" the bodies of dead Palestinians killed during army operations. The newspaper reported the practice has become widespread in the Israeli army, and happens in "almost in any place where clashes erupt between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants."
In one case, soldiers posed for pictures with the head of a suicide bomber. In another, a Palestinian who was killed because he was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time became a running joke for members of one unit.
Fire was opened at him from a heavy machinegun at military commands. After the soldiers reached the area they discovered a body without weapons or explosive belt. "He's an ordinary man who did not know where to go. The soldiers then tied the body to a military jeep that drove to the outpost, where cameras were taken out and pictures were taken, immortalizing the new 'mascot' of this combat unit. Since that time, soldiers call the body of this Palestinian 'Haffi'," which is a word derived from two Hebrew words meaning innocent.
The Independent reported Saturday that the Israeli Chief of Staff ordered an investigation into the incidents detailed by the newspaper. Although he denied that the problem was as widespread as reported by the paper, the BBC reports that Lt. Gen Moshe Ya'alon said the Israeli army's "ethical strength" was no less important than its "military strength.
'I ordered the military police to open an investigation and I intend to shed full light on this matter,' he told military radio. 'It is inconceivable that such things should happen in the ranks of Israel's army ... God forbid if we are compared and likened to those against whom we are fighting.'
But in an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the editors point out that six months ago a group of demobilized Israeli soldiers had created an exhibit called "Breaking the Silence" where they presented their own testimony of severe brutality against Palestinian in Hebron. The chief of staff's response at that time, Ha'aretz says, was to send military police to confiscate the material. The editors also say that anyone who says "it can't happen here" is turning "a blind eye to what actually goes on in the territories."
The IDF [Israeli Defense Force] spokesperson, in response to Yedioth Ahronoth, spoke about the fact that soldiers are operating in a 'complex reality' a phrase that betrays understanding for the soldiers' behavior. But this complex reality is in fact quite simple. For decades the IDF and the settlers have acted as they pleased in the territories, while the Palestinians' image as human beings with rights and with a face has gradually diminished. The process of dehumanization has reached a peak during the last four years, and certainly where there is no respect for human life, there can be no respect for the dead.
MSNBC reports Monday that the Israeli Army also formally charged an officer with repeatedly shooting a Palestinian schoolgirl after she had been wounded by other soldiers. The officer in question had been arrested three weeks ago after it was found that his report on the death of 13-year-old Iman Al Hams was false. Unidentified soldiers from the unit has also told the Israeli media about the incident.
Finally, United Press International reports that the army is also considering asking officers who live in "illegal West Bank settlements" to move. UPI reports the issue is a sensitive one because at some point the Israeli Army may be asked to remove settlers from some of the outposts the officers are now living in
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