'Israel tortures everywhere it goes'
Eden Abergil, ex Israeli soldier
There is outrage around the world at an Israel soldier's posting of her pictures with handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinians. She terms these "trophy pictures."
The Israeli army has denounced the photos. However, the anti-occupation group "Breaking the Silence" says, "It is amazing that these pictures shocked people in Israel itself, where many worse things happen during the arrest and interrogation of prisoners."
Eden Abergil has been under heavy criticism for posting images that humiliate Palestinian detainees. Angry reactions have come from both the Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinian Authority has threatened to take legal action against Israel for mistreating Palestinian prisoners at Israeli bases. They believe the images are a clear violation of international law and human rights.
PA officials are calling on international organizations, including the United Nations, to end Israeli occupation and put an end to such practices.
The Israeli military condemned the move, describing it as crude. Barak Raz, Israeli Army spokesman said, "These are disgraceful photos. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) condemns the act, aside from the matters of information security, we are talking about a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code, and should this soldier be serving an active duty today, I would imagine that no doubt she would be court-martialed immediately."
An Israeli rights group said the pictures were not exceptional and that they presented a norm in the Israel military. The Israeli Public Committee against Torture also believes these photos prove that the Israeli military treats Palestinians like objects, not humans.
Abergil took the photos during her military service in 2008. Press TV interviewed Franklin Lamb, an international lawyer in Beirut, about the issue. Following is a transcript of the interview:
Press TV What does it reflect when an ex-soldier posts such pictures under such a heading as the most beautiful time of my life?
Lamb I think it shows what we know as human frailty. We have some thing around us that allows us to behave in this way. You recall during the Holocaust, during Vietnam, Lieutenant Calley, [William Laws Calley is a convicted American war criminal. He was the US Army officer found guilty of ordering the My Lai Massacre on March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War], in Abu Ghraib, brutalities and hundreds of cases in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. Human frailty it is sad to say, but it seems that our species is capable of anything. This young lady is a Private England who was recognized as quite a sick young lady. [Lynndie England is a former United States Army reservist. She was one of eleven military personnel convicted in connection with torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, during the occupation of Iraq].
But it is not so unusual given the stress, apparently, that psychiatrists attribute to part of the problem of soldiers in a situation like this. But as you said, in a racist background like this, people are taught to dehumanize Palestinians. Aren't they? They taught racism and under pressure and boredom, these are the outcomes. We are facing a black episode.
Press TV Do you think this indifference by Israeli soldiers has become widespread?
Lamb We have to get the facts. I know that there are a number of investigations and inquiries that Israel refuses to cooperate but we do think that it would be in the interests of Israel. IDF should submit to an international inquiry so that we could learn the facts. When we could get the facts we could apply laws to those facts and see if the IDF is going to be responsible. Then we can see if the government of Israel is going to be responsible and see if we have to go the United Nations or to the International Criminal Court.
Press TV Do you think that the cruelty reflected in these photos and the lack of conciseness is widespread in the Israeli military? Do you think this was a very individual isolated situation?
Lamb What we see here is what we saw in Lebanon going back to 1982 and in 2006 - village houses which were taken over - and there is a cliche in Lebanon about Israeli soldiers. They have some problem because they go to the bathroom - they take their feces and they put it on mattresses and spread it on the walls. They use the same kind of racist language in Gaza about dogs.
There is a sickness in the Israeli army and other armies who are engaged in occupation and brutality, who are trained to despise their enemies. They practice despising supposed enemies. Everywhere they go they practice the same conduct. It is endemic. Should not the army investigate itself and clean up this kind of behavior? It is not the most moral army - it is arguably the least moral army. There has to be change. I should say the Israel army should go to square one and start training their soldiers to treat people as human beings.
Press TV More than 10,000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons. Why is there not overall condemnation of Israel for the incarceration of so many people? Why are there not tight regulations monitoring the way these people are treated?
Lamb Israel has a government that has a court, but it consistently caves in to the excesses of the government. Nobody believes Israel is democratic, when 20 percent of the population, the Arab Israelis, are discriminated against in employment, housing and every other way.