Entries in Israel Defense Forces (3)


Israeli Sniper Posts Photo of Child in Crosshairs

Instagram/The Electronic Inifada(JERUSALEM) -- A photo posted online by an Israeli soldier showing a child in the crosshairs of a rifle scope has created a firestorm on the internet, drawing widespread criticism.

The photo was reportedly posted on Jan. 25 by Mor Ostrovski, 20, a member of an Israeli sniper unit. It shows crosshairs zeroed in on the back of the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in a village. The photo has since been taken down and Ostrovski’s account has been deactivated.

“There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case,” wrote Palestinian activist Ali Abuminah who runs the site Electronic Intifada and drew much of the attention to the photo. “The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”

Before the account was taken down, Abuminah posted other photos from Ostrovski’s account that showed him in his olive green uniform holding a variety of weapons, including a sniper rifle.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told ABC News that Ostrovski told his commander on Saturday that he had not taken the photo himself but that he’d taken it off the internet. No disciplinary action will be taken.

“The picture in question does not coincide with IDF’s values or code of ethics,” the spokesman added in an e-mailed statement.

The uproar over the photo follows another posted by an Israeli infantryman on Facebook around a week ago. In it, he mocked the four Palestinian prisoners he was guarding by posing bound and blindfolded next to them. He was sentenced to 14 days detention after the brigade’s commanders discovered the photo and ordered it taken down.

“Before the investigation began, it was discovered that the soldier was already judged by his commanders,” an IDF spokesman told news site YNet. “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.”

The IDF is active on social networking, disseminating statements on Twitter and Facebook and photos on Flickr and Instagram. But individual soldiers using social media have a history of getting the Israeli military into trouble.

In November, the head of the IDF spokesperson’s social media unit landed in hot water after he posted a photo on Facebook with mud on his face, captioned “Obama style.” In 2010, a reservist named Eden Abergil sparked outrage after posting pictures with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. She told Israeli Army radio she didn’t understand what she did wrong, but the IDF called the photos “shameful behavior.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Israel Assassinates Hamas Commander in Aerial Barrage

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV) -- The Israeli military said Wednesday its Air Force targeted and killed the top military commander of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in an airstrike that was part of a larger military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Jabari, the chief of staff of the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades and de facto leader of the military wing of Hamas, was killed in what the Israeli military called a "surgical operation" Wednesday  afternoon. Video from the scene showed the charred wreckage of Jabari's vehicle, and Hamas sources later confirmed the leader's death.

Israel accused Jabari of "executing terror attacks" from Gaza against Israel and said he was at the top of their most wanted list. He had previously escaped other assassination attempts.

"The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. "This was a surgical operation in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency, that was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities."

The killing comes after days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza and rocket fire into southern Israel from the Palestinian enclave. A ceasefire had been brokered by Egypt and peace seemed to return on Tuesday, but the assassination of Jabari raises the specter of renewed violence between Israel and Gaza.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials told ABC News that in Wednesday's strikes, known as Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF also targeted Hamas' Fajar rockets, longer range Iranian rockets that could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza. The Qatar-based news outlet al Jazeera showed video from the Gaza Strip reportedly of Israeli bombs being dropped on multiple targets.

"This blows a significant blow to the terror organization's underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions warehouses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations," the IDF said in a statement.

"The Gaza strip, has turned it into a frontal base for Iran firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. The IDF will continue to target terrorist sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens."

Hamas and the militant group Islamic Jihad have announced they will retaliate forcefully against Israel, with Hamas’ Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades announcing Israel has "opened the gates of hell."

Before his death Jabari played a key role in the negotiations surrounding the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held for almost six years by Hamas. Around 1,000 Hamas soldiers were released from Israeli prisons in exchanged for Shalit who was handed over to intermediary Egypt by Jabari himself last October.

This is the first time such a senior Hamas commander was killed since Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and early 2009, during which around 1,400 Palestinians died along with 13 Israelis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Violence on Both Sides of Gaza Border Kills Three Palestinians 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In spite of a cease fire agreement between Hamas and Israel, strikes on both sides of the Gaza border on Saturday killed two Palestinian men and a 6-year-old boy and wounded an Israeli man, the New York Times reports.

A military spokesperson told the Times the chief of Israel Defense Forces called a critical meeting of senior military officials on the Sabbath to decide how to proceed. The military chief and defense minister both briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told them to do what was necessary to protect Israeli citizens, the paper says.

Hamas pledged on Saturday afternoon to continue firing rockets in response to Israeli airstrikes, but Israel's Channel 2 news reported several hours later that a new cease fire with Hamas would start on Saturday night, according to the Times.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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