September 23, 2012

Belly-dancing soldier identified

Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – The latest Israeli soldier to be caught on tape humiliating a Palestinian detainee has appeared in other questionable photographs during army service, and he posted some of those images online.

The soldier, Avi Yakobov, was filmed belly-dancing beside 24-year-old Ihsan Dababisa in a YouTube video that went viral last Monday and sparked strong condemnation from Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

Yakobov has locked down his Facebook page, but not before some of his pictures were posted by bloggers and on Twitter. On 1 October, he posted a photograph, apparently as a joke on Purim, of himself leading a blindfolded detainee. A mashup of photos pasted around Yakobov and the detainee with the caption, "Thank you for a wonderful time -- Avi and Shuki," sprawled across the center in Hebrew.

The image does not appear to depict an actual arrest -- both men are smiling, and the prisoner is tagged as Yoni Cohen -- but it raises concerns about how Yakobov and his fellow soldiers viewed their unit's detainees.

Entries appear to match behavior described by Dababisa, who said she was put through "a journey of torture and humiliation" when she was detained by Yakobov's unit at the Atzion checkpoint in December 2007. Dababisa told Ma'an that soldiers played loud music and offered her wine.

Yakobov's page shows an unusual affinity for alcohol.

"I started working at Liquor Market, yes-yes, they've let the cat guard the cream!" he wrote in December. In August: "Alcohol poisonning is baddddddddd."

He describes sexual fantasies about Palestinian women.

On 9 September, the soldier mentioned that his "penis points at MILFs," meaning older women, the next day adding that "she's maybe a MILF in Beit Jala," a Palestinian town near Bethlehem.

Posts also touch on dance parties and politics.

On 31 May, the day a Gaza-bound aid flotilla came under fire by Israeli commandos leaving nine Turkish nationals dead, Yakobov wrote, "Destroy Turkey and all the Arabs from the world."

A friend responded, "I'm with you, bro', and with God's help I'll start it :)", to which Yakobov replied: "haha and you are capable of it, with no intervention from the evil eye." Four of his friends clicked the "like" button.

Yakobov's original video continues to make waves

The Palestinian Authority described it as a "disgusting illustration of the sick mentality of the occupier," and Israeli Prime Minister called the videotape "an embarrassment to Israel."

The video follows controversy sparked by the release of pictures by a former Israeli soldier showing her near blindfolded Palestinians. Israel's army called the photos an isolated incident, prompting Israeli rights groups to release dozens of similar pictures showing soldiers humiliating Palestinians and corpses of Palestinians.

Yakobov was first identified by Agence France-Presse and the Tikun Olam blog.

He did not respond to requests from Ma'an seeking comment.

Dena Shunra contributed translation for this report.


Follow us on Twitter