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Israeli in Facebook incident dismisses criticism

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Israeli soldier's photos draw fire
  • "Eden from Ashdod" says she has apologized to those she hurt
  • She said the pictures had no political message
  • One commentator regrets that she doesn't understand what she did wrong

Jerusalem (CNN) -- The former Israeli soldier who posted photos of herself on Facebook posing in front of blindfolded Palestinians waved off criticism of her actions, arguing that her behavior was no different than that of news outlets.

"This was just a military (service) experience," Eden Abergil said in an interview on Tuesday with Israeli Army Radio. "The media does the same thing."

Abergil, the former soldier identified online as "Eden from Ashdod," is seen smiling sitting on a blast barrier next to a blindfolded man. In another picture she is sitting in front of three blindfolded Palestinians, one with his hands tied in front of him.

"I ask the media -- when you take pictures of handcuffed prisoners for TV, do you ask for their permission? Do these Arab men agree to it? I really do not understand what is wrong.

Video: Palestinian prisoner pics

"I have already apologized to the people who were actually hurt by me. This picture was without any political saying, just a thing of military (service) experience and no more."

Abergil was interviewed on Ilana Dayan's Nachon Lehaboker show.

The photos have since been taken down from her Facebook site, but Israeli media reports the photos were labeled "IDF -- best time of my life."

The photos have been slammed by Israelis and Palestinians.

In another interview on Dayan's show, a Channel 2 Army commentator, Roni Daniel, expressed anger over Abergil's attitude.

"I deeply regret that she doesn't even understand what is wrong with this. I regret that the commanders did not see this (when it happened). It is unfitting, wrong and unethical," Daniel said.

"These photos are disgraceful; in no way does the IDF condone this behavior," said Israel Defense Forces spokesman Capt. Barak Raz in a written statement. "In matters of information security aside, we are talking about a serious violation of the IDF ethical code, and I imagine that if she was on active duty today she would no doubt be court martialed."

Raz said Abergil left the military a year ago, but, "nevertheless her commanders have been informed." However, because Abergil has left the IDF it is not clear if the military will be able to take any action against her.

Jawad Amawi, director of legal affairs for the Palestinian government's prisoners ministry, told CNN, "She did this act while she was in military service, so in retrospect the Israeli occupation is responsible for her acts. This is a breach of international law, clearly a breach of human rights."

Amawi said his department will try to take legal action against the former soldier.

Israeli media reported one of the comments posted by a friend of Abergil said, "That looks really sexy for you." The photo shows Abergil smiling in front of blindfolded prisoners. She posted this response: "I wonder if he is on Facebook too -- I'll have to tag him in the photo," an apparent reference to one of the prisoners in the photo.