Netanyahu Draws Criticism For Tweet That Includes James Foley Picture

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media during a press conference at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media during a press conference at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday Aug. 2, 2014. Netanyahu warned Hamas on Saturday that it will "pay an intolerable price" if it continues to fire rockets at Israel, but also hinted that Israel would reassess its Gaza operation once troops have demolished Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced widespread criticism on Thursday for using an image from the video of the killing of a U.S. reporter in a tweet that aimed to criticize Palestinian militants.

The message, posted on the official Twitter account of the prime minister's office, compared the Palestinian militant group Hamas to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and included a still from the video showing the beheading of American reporter James Foley. The tweet later appeared to be deleted.

Several Twitter users perceived the tweet as insensitive and accused the prime minister's office of trying to exploit Foley's tragic death for propaganda purposes.

Shortly after the disturbing video was released on Tuesday, social media users urged others not to distribute Islamic State propaganda images. Proponents of the ban argued that since the extremist militants rely heavily on social media platforms to distribute their message and attract new followers, sharing footage of the graphic scenes would only do them a service.

A member of the Foley family urged users in a tweet on Tuesday not to watch the video and refrain from sharing it. The account and tweet later appeared to be deleted.

Twitter announced on Wednesday that it would suspend the accounts of users sharing the graphic images.

Netanyahu's tweet reinforced remarks he made on Tuesday comparing Hamas militants to the Islamic fighters in Syria and Iraq. In a televised statement, the Israeli leader called both groups "branches of the same tree."

"The entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of ISIS," Netanyahu said, according to Israel Hayom. "You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery."

Israel and Hamas continued attacks on Thursday after a temporary cease-fire unraveled earlier this week. Gaza militants fired rockets targeting Israel from the Strip and the Israeli army conducted airstrikes in Gaza. More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since the violence between both parties intensified on July 8. Israel lost 64 soldiers, two civilians and a guest worker in the most recent conflict.