THE Israeli army was at the centre of controversy yesterday after a senior military spokesman was accused of mocking a dead Palestinian protester on Twitter.
Mustafa Tamimi died on Saturday, a day after he was struck in the face by a tear-gas canister fired at close range from an armoured jeep in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
Israeli military officials have been unapologetic for the death, releasing pictures of a sling they said was found on Mr Tamimi's body as evidence that the dead man had thrown stones.
A number of military officials took to Twitter to defend the army and attack Mr Tamimi, but none caused as much outrage as a post by Major Peter Lerner, the spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Central Command, who appeared to suggest that the Palestinian deserved his fate.
"What was Mustafa thinking running after a moving jeep while throwing stones #fail," he wrote as the Palestinian fought for his life in hospital.
"Fail", and its stronger variant "epic fail", are slang internet terms used to denote extreme stupidity. Activists said that Major Lerner's choice of language was symptomatic of a culture of indifference to Palestinian rights within the Israeli army.
"I think it is important to remember this is the official spokesman of the IDF Central Command and it shows what the army thinks of a Palestinian life," said Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli pro-Palestinian activist.
Pictures of Mr Tamimi lying in a pool of blood, his face badly wounded, have raised tensions in the West Bank. Clashes erupted at his funeral on Sunday as Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at mourners attempting to march on a spring near Nabi Saleh which has been taken over by Jewish settlers. At least five people were injured.
Major Lerner denied mocking Mr Tamimi, saying his use of the word "fail" was directed at activists who, he said, had given a one-sided version of the incident.
The IDF has said it will investigate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)