In Israel, a scandal broke out surrounding the publication of photographs from the “discharge album” of an ex-soldier. She posed on the background of the Palestinians who had their hands tied and were blindfolded. The commanders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had to apologize. However, these scandals are no news. Torture of captured Palestinians has been long practiced by the Israeli military.
Photos from the discharge album of the former member of the IDF Eden Aberdzhil which she proudly posted on her personal page on Facebook suddenly turned into a serious scandal of the international scale.
Several images from the series “Army: the best days of my life” depict a girl in the IDF uniform posing next to the Palestinian detainees who are blindfolded and whose hands are tied. Despite the fact that the controversial album was deleted from the network by the Israeli military, the photographs have been widely disseminated by the media and bloggers.
Many rightly considered this scandalous photo shoot the height of cynicism as the photos reminded similar images of prisoner abuse by the U.S. military made in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. The Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib became famous throughout the world in April of 2004, when the American channel CBS has published pictures of abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers.
Although, in contrast to the shoots from Abu Ghraib, the Israeli photos have no signs of ill-treatment of prisoners, according to representatives of the Palestinian authorities, photographs illustrate the mentality of Israelis, proud of the fact that they can humiliate the Arabs. “The occupation is unfair, immoral and, as shown by photographs, flawed,” quoted BBC representative of the Palestinian authorities Ghassan Khatib.
Jawad Amawi, responsible for the prisoners' rights in the Palestinian autonomy, said that the act of the soldier may entail certain sanctions: “She took these pictures while serving in the IDF, and therefore the state should be held accountable for her actions. This case is a clear violation of international law and human rights. “
The Israeli commanders intend to investigate the incident with the utmost severity, even though Aberdzhil stated that she saw nothing reprehensible in her conduct. It is worth mentioning that about a year ago she was awarded “Excellence in Military Service” title.
Now the girl will be removed from the list of military reservists, and will be stripped off the title. Press Service of the IDF issued a formal statement where it apologized for the improper behavior of the retired soldier, describing it as shameful.
The head of the Israeli Committee against Torture Menuchim Yishai said that the pictures reflected the attitude towards the Palestinians as though they are not people, but inanimate objects, which has long become the norm.
Meanwhile, this is neither the first nor the last scandal involving the issue of torture of the Palestinians by Israeli security forces. At some point in Israel it was considered legitimate to use “moderate physical pressure.” By that time, when the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 banned the “tough interrogation methods,” various forms of torture were applied to nearly 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners, and that is thousands of people.
Great response was received at the time to the report of human rights organization B'Tselem on torture of Palestinian prisoners in the jails of the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet).
Despite the Supreme Court decision of 1999 strictly prohibiting the use of “enhanced interrogation methods” towards prisoners, torture of detainees suspected of terrorist activities have continued, noted human rights activists, adding that torture was carried out with the full connivance of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor's Office.
“Tough interrogation methods,” the report said, are designed, first and foremost, to morally break prisoners and get them to provide necessary information. The report contains the results of surveys of Palestinian prisoners arrested by the Shin Bet in the period from July 2005 to March 2006.
During this period, according to B'Tselem, the following methods of torture were used: sleep deprivation for over a day (15 pieces of evidence), beating that leaves no marks (17 incidents), chafing wrists with tight handcuffs (5), stretching of the body when the hands are chained to the seat (6), pulling the head with the chin in a fixed position (5), as well as torture poses, referred to as the “frog” (a prisoner forced to stand on tiptoes for a long time) and “banana” (a prisoner forced to bend her back and is in the position without support for a long time).
Of special concern for the human rights defenders is the fact that the torture was attended by Israeli doctors. The head of the Israeli Committee against Torture Menuchin Yishai said that after the release of the report “Time bomb” which stated that torture in Israel was common practice, his organization was actively opposed to complicity of Israeli doctors in torture.
However, the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) ignored repeated demands to institute proceedings in these cases, despite the fact that it had presented specific examples of how Israeli doctors violated their professional and moral duty towards the Palestinian patients.
These allegations have outraged hundreds of doctors around the world: they demanded in the past year that the head of the World Medical Association (WMA) Yoram Blashar resigns as the President of this organization. Over seven hundred doctors have signed a petition stating that doctor Blashar proved to be ineffective as the leader of the WMA by virtually permitting torture in Israel.
Critics claimed that his involvement in the practice of torture in Israeli prisons can be traced back to 1995, when he became the Chairman of IMA. During this period Blashar surprised many colleagues by expressing support for the methods of investigation involving “moderate physical pressure” in his letter to the authoritative medical publication The Lancet.
This expression means various methods of influence: from the beating and binding prisoners in painful positions to sleep deprivation. Human rights groups consider such “methods” a form of torture.
The Israeli human rights activists have repeatedly said that torture was used not only by intelligence investigators, but often soldiers of the IDF who conducted the arrest of suspects.
This was demonstrated indirectly by snapshots of Eden Aberdzhil. Several photographs of the soldier awarded with the title “Excellent military service” by the IDF show her posing with a smile on the background of the arrested residents of the Gaza Strip sitting on concrete blocks blindfolded and handcuffed with plastic ties.
Commanders of the IDF were disturbed, however, not so much by this shameful behavior of the soldier but rather the appearance of images depicting secret documents of the Israeli army sitting on the soldier Aberdzhil’s desk.
This kind of information leakage forced the commanders of the IDF earlier in the year to create a special unit engaged in searching for potentially dangerous information on the Internet. Nevertheless, as practice shows, experts cannot always keep up with the actions of the military. In March, one of the soldiers posted the details of planned operations in the West Bank of the Jordan River online, which resulted in its cancellation by the military command.
The IDF has enough problems on the Internet without discharge albums. How could they monitor compliance with the international law? Moreover, the Palestinians have long become a synonym for terrorist for the Israelis.