Elite Israeli Vets Refuse to Serve Over Treatment of Palestinians

43 members of intelligence unit write open letter
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2014 12:19 PM CDT
Elite Israeli Vets Refuse to Serve Over of Treatment of Palestinians
An Israeli tank advances in a staging area near the Israel Gaza border on Aug. 2. The recent protest involves intelligence officers, not combat troops.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Israeli military has a new problem related to Palestinians, but this one comes from within its own ranks. Forty-three vets of a secretive intelligence unit have written an open letter to their superiors refusing to take part in any further action against Palestinians because of what they see as past abuses, reports ABC of Australia. For instance, they say Unit 8200 would gather information about an individual's sex life and use it to blackmail the person into becoming an informer. "The notion of rights for Palestinians does not exist at all, not even as an idea to be disregarded," says one of the 43. Many are current reservists.

In an interview with the Guardian, three explain that the letter is not a response to the recent military offensive in Gaza. Rather, the group began forming a year ago. The New York Times points out that other members of the Israeli military have refused to serve in years past—including more than two dozen pilots who objected to targeted assassinations—but this is the first to involve members of an intelligence unit. “There are certain things that we were asked to do that we feel do not deserve the title of self-defense,” one sergeant-major tells the newspaper. “Some of the things that we did are immoral, and are against the things we believe in, and we’re not willing to do these things anymore.” Read the letter in full here. (Read more Israel stories.)

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