- An Israeli soldier posted a picture on Instagram showing what appears to be a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle.
- That picture caused sever backlash, and was eventually taken down.
- The soldier claims he did not take the photo, but rather found it on the internet and re-posted it. Israeli authorities are now investigating.
- The controversy is similar to case about a week ago where an Israeli soldier was disciplined for posting on Facebook a photo of himself standing next to four detained, blindfolded Palestinians.
A sniper in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is facing possible disciplinary action after posting a photo online appearing to show a child – presumably Palestinian – in the crosshairs of a rifle. It is unknown if the photo is real or was photoshopped. Even so, the IDF is taking the case seriously and is investigating it as a breach in military values.
According to Israeli media accounts, the photo was posted late last month by 20-year-old soldier Mor Ostrovski on his private Instagram account. Ostrovski serves in the IDF’s sniper unit.
The photo shows the back of a boy’s head as seen via a rifle scope The construction of the homes in the photo’s background is consistent with the style seen in Arab villages, though TheBlaze cannot verify the authenticity of the photo, the date it was taken or if it was indeed taken in a Palestinian village or in another Arab country.
The pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada posted it on Friday night. Ali Abunimah wrote, “There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case. The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”
Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization opposed to IDF activity in the West Bank, wrote: “This is what occupation looks like…This is what military control over a civilian population looks like.”
The photo was quickly taken down Saturday and Ostrovski’s Instagram account is no longer accessible. Abunimah also posted other photos purporting to show Ostrovski posing with his rifle.
The Times of Israel reports that before it was shut down, Ostrovski’s account received negative comments including death threats.
The Guardian reports that Ostrovski told the IDF he found the picture on the internet and then uploaded it to his Instagram account.
The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit told Ynet that "this is a severe incident which doesn't accord with the IDF's spirit and values. The issue was brought to the attention of the soldier's commanding officers, will be examined and properly handled."
It’s not the first case in which an Israeli soldier got into trouble for posting questionable photos on the internet. The Times of Israel reports:
Similar outrage ensued in 2010 after a female reserve soldier named Eden Abergil posted pictures of herself posing next to handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees on social networking site Facebook.
Following the Abergil incident, the IDF said it would crack down on soldiers posting offensive and humiliating photos on social networking sites.
Separate from the crosshairs photo, Ynet and Haaretz report another soldier was punished about a week ago over an inappropriate photo. A soldier in the Infantry Corps was sentenced to 14 days in detention after posting on Facebook a photo of himself standing next to four detained, blindfolded Palestinians who he was guarding in the Hebron area.
Ynet reports, “The Palestinian men were wanted for questioning over alleged terrorist activity. The picture was taken while they were waiting for their transport for further interrogation.”
The soldier who took the picture (of the men, not of the boy and the crosshairs) was not punished, according to Ynet, but the soldier seen in the photo was sentenced to 14 days detention. He was also told to take the photo off his Facebook account and to delete it from his cellphone.
“Sources within the unit claimed the soldier was punished so severely to emphasize the army's zero tolerance toward cases of this nature,” Ynet reported, explaining that the offense is not considered criminal, rather subject to disciplinary action by his commanders.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said, "The soldier was judged for a moral failure since photographs of this nature falsely represent the IDF and its values.”