Israeli Sniper’s Instagram Photo of a Child in His Crosshairs Sparks Outrage


A young Israeli soldier sparked outrage around the world and Web this past week after uploading an ill-advised photo on Instagram. The photo, pictured above, shows the back of a young Palestinian boy’s head in the crosshairs of 20-year-old Israeli sniper Mor Ostrovski’s rifle.

According to Al Jazeera, the photo was discovered Friday by blogger Ali Abunimah on Ostrovski’s Instagram account. Abunimah immediately spread the photo, calling it “simply tasteless and dehumanizing,” and explaining that it “embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”


Ostrovski has since deactivated both his Instagram and Facebook accounts, but not before this and other photos of his went viral on social networks the world over. The photo above, for example, was published by the New York Times before his Facebook account was taken down.

The Israeli Defense Forces have since issued a statement to the press, speaking out against the photo and making it clear that they do not approve of such actions:

The picture in question does not coincide with I.D.F.’s values or code of ethics. The soldier’s commanders have been notified. The issue will be investigated and dealt with accordingly.


However, this doesn’t seem to be the only controversial photo taken by an Israeli soldier, or even the only one of a Palestinian in their crosshairs: The New York Times explained that several of the photos on Ostrovski’s Facebook showed him using his rifle as “a comic prop.” And shortly after the photo went viral, Israeli veterans group Breaking the Silence shared it side-by-side with the eerily similar photo above, taken in 2003 by another Israeli soldier.

  • Samcornwell

    Not that it really matters, but with that aim he would have probably missed.

  • Robby Cornish

    looks good to me

  • thejoepeach

    damn… when a man have to kill to survive get nuts… thats natural way of things

  • Mark Ifi

    i think he should have defended it saying it’s been made in a safe manner with precautions for the sake of raising awareness of the situation there.(even if that’s probably not true) what matters, is this type of reporting gets through to people. and that’s fantastic.

  • jan

    Tasteless as it may be this is probably the best insight into the reality of this soldiers life. I cannot imagine how horrible it must be if this is your daily view on the world through a crosshair.

  • JAck

    Never expected PetaPixel to become a source of such hateful and rasist antisemitic propaganda.

  • Mick O

    I wonder what product Instagram would’ve have used that image to sell?

  • Mike

    You know, this is probably the point where the “hateful and antisemitic” card is used too much. I live in Israel and I served in the IDF, and overall I’m just your regular Israeli patriotic dude. But if this sniper really did do that, I feel shame. And I see nothing antisemitic in commenting against his moment of idiocy. This is NOT what we’re taught in the IDF.

  • bogorad

    When this appeared on The Verge some days ago one of the most popular comments had the word “art” in it.

    Now, this is a photography site, right? No one uses that word here. I’m amazed.

  • JJ Black

    English language much?

  • mister awesome

    Horrible for the soldier!? Are you kidding me?

  • Paul Melo

    It is so sad that the mere mention of an Israeli doing wrong is somehow ‘antisemitic’. You’ve played that card long enough.

  • Richard Ford

    Storm meet teacup.

  • Rob LaRosa

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, in this photo the rifle is nothing more than a glorified telescope – assuming the safety is on and his finger isn’t on the trigger. Which I think is a safe assumption if he is indeed a military sniper.

  • Jake

    Not to mention the fact that Arabs/Palestinians are technically considered Semitic too.

  • eraserhead12

    take your blindfolds off, please.

  • chudds007

    Not a big deal ! but only a numbskull would post it online ! when you get bored on an outpost somewhere , all kinds of things appear in your sights and thoughts go through your head . Best to keep them private though .

  • eraserhead12

    scopes on firearms are meant to help aim at your target.. he’s pointing the scope at a child in a village.. you can’t draw inferences on intent, or grasp the general metaphor?

  • Todd Gardiner

    This is both a clear example that 20-year-old boys do stupid things and an object lesson that military duty should not be a source of social networking content.

    Palestinians are right to feel outrage over the implications of the photo, but no one is suggesting this is a policy statement by Israel or indicative of how Israelis in general feel.

  • Eli

    Let’s be clear: the Israeli teenager’s photo did not itself “spark outrage around the world.” It was when a middle aged, anti-Israel blogger decided to post it as “proof” of Israel’s inhumanity that the photo elicited outrage. That being said, the photo can definitely be interpreted as objectionable, trivializing a non trivial matter of life and death. But why do we automatically assume that the soldier in question snapped this photo with that intent? Why don’t we grant him the same privilege as we do other photographers to make a political statement through his photography? What if we instead interpret the photo a reflection of the tremendously difficult decisions that a soldier in the IDF has to make when dealing with the Palestinian civilians? To jump to a single conclusion is hypocritical, especially here, where photographers should respect other photographers’ right to self expression.

  • Eli

    “You’ve?” Are you referring to Jack, or the Jewish people? Because if it’s the latter, then you’ve lost your argument.

  • John Kantor

    Or it could be ironic commentary. Unfortunately irony is lost on the ignorant.

  • Eli

    Is it really dehumanizing? Does this photo take away his humanity? I’d argue that it actually considers the boy’s life as its primary concern — the sole focus of the picture in fact. This isn’t to defend the act of aiming guns at kids, but we don’t know that he was actually aiming at the kid — it’s possible he was just scoping out the territory and the kid decided to sit down where his crosshairs were pointed. In any case, let’s be accurate in our use of words.

  • John Kantor

    ” You write “Born to Kill” on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?…’I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.”‘

  • Paul Melo

    My choice of grammer does not disqualify the fact that any mention or criticism of Israeli or Jewish wrong doing or skewed history or horrible treatment of another people is instantly called ‘anti-semitic’. Yes, the tactic of rebuffing any opinion that is not pro-Jewish as ‘antisemitic’ is grossly overused… and I presume you belong to the group given your stance.

  • Eli

    Well, criticism of Israel is not instantly called anti-semitic except by a few. That’s the whole point. Your extension of one person’s argument to an entire group (i.e. the Jews) is what’s actually the problem here. So your choice of words does make a difference. But honestly I don’t care. I was just pointing out your logical inconsistency.

  • Angelina Singson

    He did nothing wrong. He took photo of what he see everyday. It’s a document of his life. What other people think of it, and their opinion about it is another story.

  • Ivan

    I think this is the most accurate comment so far, and the most appropriate for PetaPixel.

    The whole story reminds me a bit of the old and never ending discussion on “captioning” photographs, and how captions could suggest meaning and interpretation. As Susan Sontag puts it: “Captions tend to override the evidence of your eyes” (“On Photography”, 1973). What we are really seeing in this case is “media captioning”, an attempt of someone other than the photographer to “override” the meaning and make us think this or that about the photo, which is aligned with their agendas, whatever that might be. We are in fact not discussing the photo here, but all the various caption(s).

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    Yes, it makes complete sense that the soldier was scoping the area, a kid decided to sit down in his crosshairs and he decided to take a photograph of the kid in the crosshair and upload it to instagram – and that makes it all OK. Yes, makes sense.

  • Eli

    I never said anything made complete sense here. I do believe I offered an equally valid explanation to how the shot was composed though. By mockingit you just avoid facing the reality that you see only what you want to see in the picture. If you have it out to delegimitize Israel, you can. If you’d rather reserve judgement, you can as well. I think we both know which approach is more honest.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I’m not looking to delegitimize Israel. I’m looking at a shot of a sniper, mind you a real sniper with a real sniper rifle with real bullets, pointing a real sniper scope at a real kid in a real conflict area. And I’m not blaming the sniper alone, he is in the position because of a complex conflict, and he is just 20 year old – in a position he shouldn’t be in, no one should be in.

  • Eli

    Okay, fair enough. Beware though that the only reason this is making news is that there *are* people out there whose purpose it is to delegitimize Israel. (People like the blogger who combed through Instagram accounts of Israeli teenagers to find it.) Why is this photo of a kid who never even got hurt making more news than the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have actually died just a few miles north in Syria?

  • truikos

    Yeah I’ll just set up camp opposite of your kids kindergarten and casually scope in on your kid and post it on instagram. Nothing wrong with that following your logics. You sound like one of those closet-pro-israeli lowbobs.

  • truikos

    Yeah, poor Isrealis. They must have it so rough compared to the ones whose land they occupied.

  • truikos

    Hehehe, zionist JIDF troll. Shoo shoo

  • Eli

    If my kids’ school were used doubly as a storage and launch site for weapons, then I would expect the military to have its sights set on it. You draw a completely false dichotomy since the two situations (one in America, one in Israel) are totally incompatible.

  • truikos

    Yeeeeeah here we go again with the zionist propaganda. Kids schools used as storage and launch sites. Durr durr. And all palestinians and arabs are rats, right?

  • Christian Jones

    I agree totally with Eli on this – Virulent Ant-Semites are taking this image and removing it from all its context.

  • Igor Ken

    This is an interesting point of view. And as a communication sciences graduate, I can tell you that this is one of an innumerate examples when the framing theory is used in a conflict to someones advantage and someone else’s inconvenience.

  • Guest

    On the other hand I don’t think that military people on duty should be allowed to use social media.

  • Igor Ken

    Framing theory explained. This is a clarified example of what I was talking about in my comment. Thanks, Ivan! I agree 100%

  • Felipe_Paredes

    I’m sure its just an anti semitic kid sitting in a poor israeli rifle scope view.

  • kendon

    sharpness is bad, and awb is way too yellow.

  • J. William IV


  • Andres Trujillo

    Perhaps not, that being said, drawing a parallel between a “conflict” area (Israel/Palestine), and a non conflict area, renders your point mood. I don’t agree with the situation, but this is nothing more than a kid making poor choices in social media. This does not represent the government on either side

  • Andres Trujillo

    LOL, come on man, history has two sides, no?

  • Andres Trujillo


  • gabe sturdevant

    Next time you are in a war zone, take some infrared goggles and stand on a tallish building. Look into the darker areas around you. I bet you will see a few laser beams aimed at people. I am sure this is a case of having to monitor one spot for hours at a time and having people walk through the scope. A kid, who very easily could be in the teenager range happened to walk through the view.

    Now if it was left with the comment “pow” or “bang” then I could see outrage.

  • Aidan

    i totally agree with angelina…if humanity dont wanna see that kind thing.they should just stop the wars and the bad things in their lifes. like captalism and religion.

    It’s fun,when the soldiers go to defend their country nobody get mad about that.the wrong here is humanity and the hipocrisy they like to live everyday pretending that kind of thing dont exist.

  • Vipul

    Does Anyone who is commenting wants to be that Palestinian kid in this picture. CERTAINLY NOT. First put yourself in the same situation then talk about ART. Dont justify wrong actions