The Israeli embassy in Ireland has insisted there was no intention "to cause insult or offense" over its controversial depiction of the famous Dublin statue of Molly Malone wearing a Muslim headscarf.
Last Friday the Dublin-based embassy published four different doctored images of well-known European landmarks and paintings, including one of Molly Malone, on its official Twitter feed.
But the photos, which were superimposed with weapons and traditional Muslim clothing, triggered an online backlash and were quickly removed.
However, The Irish Times notes that the embassy has finally broken its silence on the publication of the contentious images and insisted it had not intended to offend or insult anyone.
In a statement on its Israel in Ireland Facebook page, the embassy said it had "thus far refrained from commenting in the Irish media on the subject, but we would now like to share with you the following information."
The statement added: "One of the administrators of the embassy's social media accounts posted the images, which originated from a media site. When the account administrator received a request from one of our followers to take down the images, the request was compiled with immediately. There was no intention to cause insult or offense to anyone."
The controversial images – all of which bore the caption 'Israel is the last frontier of the free world' – included a picture of the Molly Malone statue covered in a traditional Muslim niquab, which is a long black headscarf and entitled 'Israel now Dublin next.'
Another picture depicted the Paris' Mona Lisa in a hijab and clutching a large rocket, while in a third image, entitled 'Israel now Italy next,' Michelangelo’s David wore a skirt made from explosives.
The fourth photo saw the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark holding a huge gun with the words 'Israel now Denmark next.'
The images are part of the embassy's contentious social media campaign that includes last week's Tweet of a Palestinian flag superimposed with a picture of Adolf Hitler and the words 'Free Palestine now!'
But the latest photos sparked uproar on Twitter, with one user raging: "This bigotry and racism against Arabs and Muslims from a verified diplomatic account is reprehensible."
The Irish Times also notes that the embassy refused to make any further comment on the use of the doctored photos.
When approached by the paper, the embassy said: "In view of the Irish Times' extremely biased, partisan coverage of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, inciting hatred of the Jewish State, the embassy will not comment."