Dozens reservists and former members of an elite Israeli army intelligence unit have condemned alleged “abuses” of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The forty-three reserve soldiers expressed their condemnation in an open letter addressed to Israel’s prime minister, armed forces chief, head of military intelligence and distributed to media on Thursday.
“We veterans of Unit 8200, reservists past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in activity against Palestinians and refuse to be tools to deepen the military control in the occupied territories,” the soldiers wrote.
We call for all soldiers serving in the Intelligence Corps, present and future, along with all the citizens of Israel, to speak out against these injustices and to take action to bring them to an end.
“There’s no distinction between Palestinians who are, and are not, involved in violence, we cannot continue to serve this system in good conscience, denying the rights of millions of people” they wrote.
The soldiers went on to express their concern towards human rights abuses and the disruption of Palestinians everyday lives.
They clarified that they will no longer take part in any act that harms innocent people and called upon all soldiers to join their cause and speak out.
“We call for all soldiers serving in the Intelligence Corps, present and future, along with all the citizens of Israel, to speak out against these injustices and to take action to bring them to an end.”
One soldier also told Channel 10 TV he feels most of the work was motivated by “political reasons” to cement Israel’s control over the West Bank and not security concerns.
The letter was published less than three weeks after the military’s fierce offensive against Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip killed more than 2,200 people, many of them civilians.
The 8200 army unit is one of Israel’s best and brightest unit , taking care of surveillance and communications monitoring in addition to sharing information with Israel’s civilian intelligence agencies.
A former commander of the unit, reserve Brigadier General Hanan Gefen, accused the letter’s authors of a grave breach of trust.
“If this is true and if I were the current unit commander, I would put them all on trial and would demand prison sentences for them, and I would remove them from the unit,” General Hanan Gefen said on Friday.