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article imageIsraeli sniper posts photo of Palestinian boy in crosshairs

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 19, 2013 in World
An IDF soldier, Mor Ostrovski, 20, has stirred controversy and outrage by posting to his Instagram account an image that shows the back of a Palestinian boy's head in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle.
According to Haaretz, the image went viral online after it was posted to the news site Electronic Intifada, dedicated to monitoring the Israel-Palestinian Conflict .
ABC News reports that Mor Ostrovski, the IDF soldier who posted the image to his personal Instagram account, is a member of an IDF sniper unit.
According to The Huffington Post, the image appears to show the back view of a young boy sitting close to a field, with a camera capturing the sight through the scope of a sniper rifle, and with the crosshairs centered on the boy's head (see image below).
Ali Abuminah, who manages the website Electronic Intifada, that drew attention to the photo, said: "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."
Abuminah's site published other photos taken from Ostrovski's Instagram page before it was deactivated following the uproar that greeted the crosshairs image.
According to ABC News, the other photos include some showing the IDF soldier posing with different weapons, including a sniper rifle (see photos below).
The Guardian comments that although the context of the picture is unverified, its message of aggression and domination is clear. The background images of minarets and Arabic architecture suggest the setting was a Palestinian town or village, The Guardian observes.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) authorities have reacted, saying that the soldier's commanders are investigating the incident. A spokesman of the IDF said the soldier's action was "not in accordance with the spirit of the IDF or its values."
According to Haaretz, the IDF solider has deactivated his Instagram account in the aftermath of the uproar caused by his ill-judged image.
Palestinian boy in IDF crosshairs
Palestinian boy in IDF crosshairs
Eytan Buchman, an IDF spokesman, said Ostrovski told his commander that he did not take the photo himself, but that he found it elsewhere on the Internet and posted it to his Instagram account.
Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli combat soldiers working to raise awareness about life in the West Bank, condemned the image. A comment posted to the group's Facebook account, said: "This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like."
The group described the photo as an "absurd show of force," and raised questions about a system where "a person can aim a gun at a child just to post a 'cool' picture" in a frivolous quest for online popularity.
Mor Ostrovksi
Mor Ostrovksi
Haaretz reports that the group said the image shows that not much has changed since the organization published a similar photograph taken by a soldier in 2003.
The group said: "There, too, an Israeli soldier aimed a weapon at a boy and took a picture with his camera as a memento, a gesture of an endless feeling of power that is connected to control over another people. Ten years have passed. The devices and the applications have changed; the ways in which pictures are shared has changed. The feeling of excessive power and the clear contempt for human life and human dignity have remained."
According to Haaretz, in an unrelated incident, a soldier posted to Facebook a picture of himself posing next to cuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees. The IDF said the soldier has been sentenced to 14 days in a military prison.
Mor Ostrovski  IDF sniper
Mor Ostrovski, IDF sniper
ABC News reports that IDF spokesman Eytan Buchman, commenting on the 14-day sentence, said: “Before the investigation began, it was discovered that the soldier was already judged by his commanders. Since the documented offense isn't criminal and since the legal procedure conducted by the soldier’s commanding officer was found appropriate, a disciplinary action was decided to be sufficient."
A similar procedure was adopted two years ago when a female soldier, Eden Abergil, sparked an uproar after she posted online a photo showing her posing next to bound Palestinian detainees. The deputy state prosecutor decided that no criminal offense had been committed. The soldier was made to face military disciplinary and not criminal proceedings. She reportedly told Israeli Army radio she did not realize that what she did was wrong. The IDF, however, described her action as "shameful."
The Israeli military has been plagued in recent times by the social media indiscretions of its soldiers and many critics of the IDF argue that the behavior of IDF soldiers on social media is a reflection of IDF ethos. The reaction of the IDF authorities, critics say, only shows their embarrassment at negative exposure the IDF is getting.
In December, Nisim Asis, a 22-year-old IDF soldier from the Beit-El settlement posted offensive images to his Instagram account, one of which showed him licking "blood" (possible tomato ketchup) from a knife with the caption: "Fuck all Arabs their blood is tasty."
In November, the head of the IDF's social media unit caused a stir when he posted a photo on Facebook with mud on his face, captioned “Obama style.”
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