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18 Aug, 2010 17:46

“Humiliation of Palestinian detainees by Israeli soldiers is a trend"- activist

Human rights group says the photos posted on Facebook of a former Israeli officer posing beside Palestinian prisoners are just the tip of the iceberg.

The group Breaking the Silence declared that such photos represent the norm, not an exception as pronounced by Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The activists even went as far as publishing photos of other Israeli soldiers in front of Palestinian prisoners.

On a Facebook page named "The Norm that IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu Denies,” they posted pictures that show Israeli soldiers posing next to the bodies of suspected militants and next to handcuffed detainees.

In their statement, Breaking the Silence demanded that the “IDF spokesman not insult the intelligence of the Israeli public, and clarify that it is a widespread phenomenon, not an aberration caused by a single soldier," as reported by Haaretz.

Outrage was sparked after former Israeli soldier Eden Abergil uploaded photos of herself smiling in front of bound Palestinian prisoners. She saved the photos under a title "IDF – the best time of my life.”

According to Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib, the photos and underlying attitude are the result of Israel's 43-year-old occupation of Palestinians.

"It indicates that occupation is the cause of suffering and humiliation for the Palestinian people every day and it's an indicator of the fact that the occupation also corrupts the Israelis," Khatib was quoted as saying by AP.

The Israeli army responded on Monday that "on the face of it the behavior exhibited by the soldier is base and crude."

Louis Frankenthaler, from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, agrees that incidents like this one are part of a broader trend and should not be viewed as isolated events.

“We find as human rights organization – such as Breaking the Silence, Public Committee Against Torture and others – that these incidents are not isolated, these incidents are part of a trend or part of an ongoing situation,” he said. “Palestinian detainees are seen as objects, are seen as tools either for entertainment to pose with them, and that is only part of a problem.”

“The major problem is that detainees, particularly when they are handcuffed, when they are blindfolded, face physical violence, face humiliation, face psychological violence on the part of Israeli soldiers after they are arrested,” Frankenthaler added.