The image was posted on the Instagram account belonging to Mor Ostrovski but later removed (Instagram/Electronic Intifada)
The image was posted on the Instagram account belonging to Mor Ostrovski but later removed (Instagram/Electronic Intifada)

An Instagram photograph of what appears to be a rifle sight targeted on a Palestinian boy by an Israeli soldier has prompted a military investigation.

The picture, which show a rifle's crosshairs aimed directly at a boy's head, was uploaded to the picture-based social network by Mor Ostrovski, a 20-year-old soldier with the Israel Defence Force (IDF).

The image, along with Ostrovski's Instagram account, was subsequently deleted but not before it was uploaded to Electronic Intifada, a news site focused on Palestinian issues.

Ostrovski argued that he did not take the picture but found it on the internet and then uploaded it. An IDF spokesman added that the picture might be a fake.

While there is no evidence to suggest the soldier fired at the boy, Electronic Intifada described the photo as "tasteless and dehumanising". "It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets," the site added.

The Arabic architecture in the photograph suggest that the boy and the town he is in are Palestinian.

Ostrovski was reported to have received death threats. One member of the Israeli veteran group Breaking the Silence wrote on their Facebook page: "This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like."

Israel's Ynet reported quoted the IDF saying: "This is a severe incident which doesn't accord with the IDF's spirit and values. The issue was brought to the attention of the soldier's commanding officers [and] will be examined and properly handled."

There was similar outrage after soldier Eden Abergil posted pictures of herself on Facebook posing next to handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees and describing it as "best time of her life".

In December, Electronic Intifada also discovered an Instagram account of 22-year-old solider Nisim Asis. One of his pictures included one oh him licking what appears to be tomato ketchup off a knife with the caption: "F**k all Arabs, their blood is tasty."

Following the Abergil incident, the IDF said it would crack down soldiers posting offensive images on social networking sites.