Picture protest

Soldiers spell out PM is a ‘loser’

In Facebook pic that goes viral, 16 men arrange their bodies to show frustration at not going into battle

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

IDF soldiers using their bodies to spell 'Bibi [is a] loser,' November 22, 2012. (photo credit: screen capture/Facebook)
IDF soldiers using their bodies to spell 'Bibi [is a] loser,' November 22, 2012. (photo credit: screen capture/Facebook)

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said Thursday it was looking into a photograph circulating widely on Facebook in which 16 IDF soldiers arranged their uniformed bodies on the sand, to spell out the Hebrew words “Bibi loser” — in a deft physical critique of Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s failure to send ground troops into Gaza during the just-ended Operation Pillar of Defense.

Netanyahu warned throughout the operation that a wider military assault on Hamas might be about to unfold. The IDF called up tens of thousands of reservists and deployed large troop contingents close to the Gaza border, and some troops were reportedly ordered more than once to gear up for an incursion, only to be ordered to stand down at the last moment.

“We were twice ordered to gear up and told that we are going in, and then we were called back to Israel,” one soldier said Thursday; others said they had even opened border gates before being told to return.

The photograph’s source was not clear at time of writing. It had been posted and reposted on numerous Facebook pages, receiving more than 3,000 “Likes” and 400 “shares” in one Facebook group alone within three hours of appearing.

Many commenters on the photo said that the soldiers should be court-martialed; many others empathized with the soldiers’ evident sense of frustration at having been wound up for battle and then wound down, calling Netanyahu a coward and criticizing the prime minister for preventing the IDF from “getting the job done” and “giving it to Hamas.”

The IDF’s Spokesman’s Office said it frowned upon soldiers expressing political opinions while in uniform.

The soldiers did not wear identifying insignia; their red boots indicated that they were from infantry units.

On Wednesday night, Israel and Hamas agreed to the terms of an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, ending eight days of conflict.

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