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Israel investigates dancing soldier video

Associated Press / October 6, 2010

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said yesterday that it was launching an investigation into a YouTube video that appears to show an Israeli soldier dancing around a blindfolded Palestinian woman.

In the video, the woman, wearing a Muslim headscarf and long black robe, stands along a wall as the soldier wiggles around her in an Oriental style of dancing and makes suggestive gestures. Arabic music blares in the background, and the woman barely moves.

The Web clip is the latest in a series of embarrassing videos and photos uploaded to social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook that show Israeli soldiers mocking Palestinians. If authentic, it would be the first specifically to humiliate a Palestinian woman, a deeply sensitive issue in Arab society.

In August, a young former soldier posted pictures of herself in uniform, posing in front of handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on her Facebook page. Earlier this year, a video showed soldiers dancing while on patrol in a West Bank city.

In a statement, the army said it “denounces actions such as these depicted in the videos.’’ It said the videos are “isolated cases.’’

Military officials said late yesterday that they were still investigating the matter, and it remained unclear whether the video was even authentic.

Military prosecutors can do little if soldiers have already been discharged from the army, which appears to be the case in most incidents, including this one.

Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group, called it a “sickening phenomenon’’ in a letter sent by the organization’s lawyer to military prosecutors demanding a broad criminal investigation.

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