Some 43 members of an elite Israeli Defense Force intelligence unit, many still on active duty, sent an open letter of protest to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sept. 12, in which they refuse to spy on the Palestinian people. It states:
“We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the occupied territories.
“It is commonly thought that the service in military intelligence is free of moral dilemmas and solely contributes to the reduction of violence and harm to innocent people. However, our military service has taught us that intelligence is an integral part of Israel’s military occupation over the territories,” the letter continues.
The information that the unit gathered “harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself,” the letter states. (RT, Sept. 13)
As expected, Israel’s political and military leadership met this letter with hostility. Yariv Levin, of the right-wing Likud Party and a Knesset member, called for the immediate removal of the 43 soldiers from Unit 8200 and said, “We must keep the objecting reservists away from their army’s ranks immediately.” (Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, Sept. 13)
Levin and other Israeli leaders aim to prevent such ideas from spreading further into the IDF, particularly after its recent brutal attacks on Gaza during Israel’s operation “Protective Edge,” which killed 2,000 Palestinians, and set off worldwide opposition.
This is not the first case of members of Unit 8200 objecting to Israeli military policy. Ten years ago, several pilots in the unit filed a complaint after refusing to carry out “targeted” assassination missions against Palestinian leaders.
The United States government, Israel’s main sponsor, has maintained a stony silence in response to this courageous stance. U.S. imperialism has failed to successfully cover up all of its own intelligence-gathering crimes, carried out by the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, since many of them have been revealed by Edward Snowden. Imprisoned hero, Chelsea Manning, has also exposed many U.S. war crimes carried out in Iraq.
The Israeli military is threatening to punish these 43 protesters.
However, Adnan Damiri, a spokesperson for Palestinian security services, responded to their brave actions: “If there are, among the Israelis, 43 soldiers who reject the idea of occupation, we view this as a moral act. We salute humanitarian ideas like this toward an oppressed people.” (RT, Sept. 15)