After hours of contemplation, Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein on Sunday decided to authorize the publication of photos of the Itamar massacre victims.
The minister authorized to distribute the images to foreign media outlets after receiving permission from the victims' families, who requested that their loved ones' faces be blurred.
"Only these ghastly images can show the world what and who the State of Israel has to deal with," said Edelstein.
Elements within the settler leadership distributed over the weekend gruesome photos from the scene of the terror attack in
which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.
Officials at the Prime Minister's Office considered
the option of releasing the shocking photographs to raise global awareness to the threats Israel is facing, but at first decided against the move.
Those in favor of releasing the photos from Itamar say they would force the international community to come face to face with the cruelty of Palestinian terrorism, while others claim that not publishing the photos would further underscore the differences between Israel
and the terrorists.
Most PR experts who spoke to Ynet said the government should have released the photos, with the authorization of the Fogel family. "We should use photos and videos, in which the victims' faces are blurred, to show the world what kind of animals the State of Israel is dealing with," strategic advisor and crisis management expert Roni Rimon said.
He said releasing the images is necessary in order to convince anyone who is willing to listen that "Israel is dealing with forces that do not conduct themselves according to conventional laws of war, but rather to the law of the jungle.
Fogel family home in Itamar (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
"Israel spends tens of billions of dollars on security, but it neglects the PR aspect, which is just as important as advanced tanks and planes," Rimon added. "It is crucial that people understand the difference between us and them. We must stress that that when we kill civilians it is by mistake, but they butcher an entire family in the middle of the night. The photos serve as unequivocal proof of this."
Communications expert Yariv Ben-Eliezer of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya also believes Israel should distribute the photos "to show the kind of horrors we are exposed to," adding "in this war, pictures are the bullets."
PR expert Amnon Shomron agrees that the fight for global awareness is a "dirty" one. "If we claim that we are facing wild animals – we have to provide visual proof, not only statements," he says.
Shomron mentions the horrific photos form the lynching of two IDF reservists in Ramallah in 2000. "Being humane does not require us not to show the other side's brutality," he contends.
However, Yoram Schweitzer, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies and an expert on international terrorism said Israel must remember that the massacre in Itamar took place as the world is focused on the devastating earthquake in Japan. "Obviously, images from the massacre can shock hundreds of thousands, but they won't change people's opinion of Israel – be it positive or negative," he said.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report