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Israelis trophy photos with dead palestinians { November 21 2004 }

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Taking 'Trophy' Pictures With Palestinian Bodies Widely Spread Among Israeli Soldiers

GAZA, November 21, 2004 (IPC + Yedioth Ahronoth) - - The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published a report last Friday about a serious dark side of the moral degeneration of the Israeli army - taking 'trophy' photographs of bodies of dead Palestinians.

The newspaper reported in its electronic edition that bodies of 'terrorists' had become a vital part of Israeli soldiers' photo albums. "It is hard to believe, but this is the image in the Israeli army," the newspaper said.

The report also acknowledged that not all those killed by Israeli forces were resistance activists. "The Nahal combat unit for religious Jews immortalized their lynching of a Palestinian body. And so Haffi, who was an innocent Palestinian shot to death by military commands, became a mascot on top of one of the Armored Personnel Carriers in Gaza Strip."

An Israeli officer, Y, commander of a combat unit belonging to the Nahal, reported that after a Palestinian blew himself up at a military checkpoint in the Jordan Valley, his soldiers told him how they lynched the body. Nobody was killed in this attack except the Palestinian bomber.

"There was nothing at the scene of the explosion except the body of the 'terrorist'," said 'Y'. "It was not exactly a body, but parts of it. My soldiers told me how happy they were playing with these parts like puzzle pieces, then cameras were taken out for trophy pictures."

The newspaper also quoted another officer, 'G', who asked to be photographed next to the severed head of the Palestinian. "Everyone laughed at the idea, and they put the head on a wooden pole like a scarecrow and one soldier even put a cigarette in the head's mouth."

"All the soldiers liked this scene. It was very destructive. I remember trying to tell them 'Are you crazy? You make me sick.' But they did not understand what I was talking about," said 'Y'.

Yedioth Ahronoth further mentioned that the lynching of the body was photographed by one of the officers and that the photos were sold for two shekels each. Many photos were sold.

Widespread Phenomenon
The newspaper's report asserted that lynching and taking trophy photos of Palestinian corpses has become a widespread phenomenon among all units of the Israeli army. "Almost in any place where clashes erupt between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants," the newspaper reported.

The report also described a lynching that occurred in mid-2003 in the Gaza Strip "when a tank crew spotted a Palestinian approaching. Heavy machinegun fire was directed at him. After the soldiers reached the area they discovered a body without weapons or explosive belt. He was an ordinary man who did not know where he was going. The soldiers then tied the body to a military jeep and drove to the outpost where cameras were taken out and pictures were taken, immortalizing the new 'mascot' of this combat unit. Since that time, soldiers call the body of this Palestinian 'Haffi', a name derived from two Hebrew words meaning innocent."

Another soldier, 'Sh', who served in the same unit, told the newspaper, "This act became our slogan. If one of the soldiers killed an armed Palestinian after this story, then they say, 'Oh, he's not like Haffi.' The whole thing became a joke, a kindergarten game, but using real people."

Another story was told by 'G', a soldier serving in an elite combat unit. "After a military operation in one of the villages in the Palestinian territories, we came back to the military base with two bodies of armed men. The bodies were thrown near the toilets. One of the soldiers covered them, but the others kept uncovering them. I remember from time to time some soldiers came and pulled the bodies' hair and played with them."

Another soldier referred to by the newspaper as 'D', said that his combat unit participated in a military operation near Nablus. "The unit I belonged to arrested 'wanted' men while another unit patrolled the area."

"Apparently, a Palestinian police car came to the area, so the soldiers - acting on military commands - sprayed them with bullets," 'D' continued.

"After that the scene with their bodies began. We heard on the radio that the bodies were in a really bad shape."

"There were parts of the brain and bowels scattered. All that one can and cannot imagine. They said some volunteers should be called in. Suddenly, enthusiasm filled the soldiers and everyone wanted to volunteer. I was very disgusted. The rest of the soldiers did not only volunteer, but held a festival and took pictures," 'D' reported.

"Afterwards, the pictures were circulated among the soldiers of my unit. They were simply part of the album. We used to take photos with each other at the end of the training period as a souvenir. Now we're taking pictures of dead bodies too."

At the end of the report, the Israeli newspaper published the comments of an Israeli military spokesperson who said: "The report looks dangerous and the Israeli army denounces these acts very much. The officers of all ranks are entitled to take any disciplinary actions necessary to expose and discuss these problems, in order to create an atmosphere of openness and increase awareness."

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