An M-16 is not something you would expect to see on a public beach -- let alone strapped onto a bikini-wearing woman. But a photo depicting just this on a crowded Tel Aviv shoreline has gone viral if for nothing else than its unusual combination.
The photo began circulating on the Web all the way back in May and still continues to make its rounds. Gizmodo, Redditt and Haaretz picked up on the image early on, while the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail, Israel Insider and YNet News are a few examples of how the story of the unknown, bikini-clad and weapon-wielding woman continues to draw attention.
You can view the photo here.
The New York Daily News reports the photo was viewed 650,000 times in only one day. Headlines have included "Hot Chick With Gun Occupies Internet," "Bad*** Chicks In Israel Don’t Go To the Beach Without Their Assault Rifles," and "They really are dangerous curves: Heavily armed and bikini-clad female Israeli soldiers 'mingle' with beachgoers".
Haaretz reported first seeing the image on Facebook with the caption "Only in Israel." At the time of Haaretz's coverage of the story, the photo had more than 500 "shares" and more than 1,500 "likes" on the social media site. Now, the photo has been shared nearly 800 times and has nearly 2,000 likes.
Allison Kaplan Sommer, who wrote the blog post on Haaretz ,said she is fascinated by the stir the photo has caused on the Internet, but acknowledges in a way it actually makes practical sense. Here's some of what she wrote:
I’ve been quite fascinated by the fascination. Bikini pictures aren’t uncommon, and neither are pictures of gun. But put them together and you’ve got everyone’s attention. The combination of exposed female body and deadly weaponry must tap into some deep-seated male fantasy world. Even when fully clad, there seems to be a major Internet fetish for Israeli female soldiers. A quick Google search will prove me right. There may be other countries with women in the military - including the United States, but the consequences of Israel’s universal military service is that, when the entire female population goes to the army at age 18, each cohort is going to include a certain percentage of really hot women.
But still, a bikini and a gun?
To an Israeli, the photo makes perfectly practical sense. When soldiers take their weapon off military premises, they must guard it closely and keep it on their person, at all times. Having one’s weapon stolen is harshly punished with time in military prison a given. I’ve heard male soldiers on leave refer to their gun as their ‘wife,' so constant is the companionship. We’re used to seeing guns in all kinds of places - propped up next to the guy sitting next to us in a coffeeshop, or in a university classroom, and of course, slung over the shoulders of women soldiers, including women soldiers.
Of course, they usually tend to be wearing their uniforms at the time.
Sommers also calls to mind the potential that the gun could have been photoshopped onto the woman in this image.
YNet News points out the photo has been reported on across the globe, including on Indian, Italian and Spanish websites.
The link to Haaretz has been updated.