A former Israeli soldier found herself at the center of a global Internet storm today after she posted photographs of herself on her Facebook page posing with handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees.
Eden Abergil, from the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, titled the sequence of pictures "IDF [Israel Defense Forces] the best time of my life."
The photos showed her smiling and sitting next to several Palestinian men detained at an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied Palestinian territories.
One comment from an online friend read, "that looks really sexy for you."
Abergil responded, "I wonder if he (the Palestinian prisoner) is on Facebook too – I'll have to tag him in the photo."
Abergil was discharged from the Israeli army a year ago after her compulsory national service. The authorities therefore have no legal power to prevent her posting the photos, but they have since been removed from her site.
The Israeli army, itself a recent convert to the use of social media sites for its propaganda, was quick to issue a condemnation statement saying "these actions are ugly and callous."
Yishai Menuchin, a spokesman for Israel's Public Committee Against Torture said, "the horrible pictures demonstrate a norm of treating the Palestinians like objects instead of human beings, treatment that disregards their feelings as humans and their right to privacy."
The Palestinian Authority was quick to add its voice to the criticism.. Spokesman Ghassan Khatib said, "This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians. The occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting."
Soldier: 'I Still Don't Understand What's Wrong'
In an interview today with Israel Radio, Eden Abergil, for former soldier, claims she has received death threats and is now living under virtual siege at her home in Ashdod.
"I still don't understand what's wrong," she said, adding that the pictures "were taken in good will; there was no statement in them."
She claimed she had no idea the photos and Facebook comments would cause a problem.
In the last year the Israeli military has tried to tighten up on its soldiers' use of social media. They are now forbidden from posting photos taken in military bases or while on operations.
Israeli Soldier Poses With Palestinian Prisoners; Echoes of Abu Ghraib?
In July, video of a unit of Israeli soldiers dancing to Keshaa's hit Tik Tok while on patrol in the Palestinian city of Hebron was widely seen on Youtube. Considered harmless fun by many, it caused great offense to the local residents.