JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces said it will take disciplinary action against dozens of Israeli intelligence corps reservists who signed a letter vowing to stop collecting information on Palestinians.
Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, the head of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, in a statement issued Sunday called the letter from 43 reservists, including 10 officers, an “exploitation of military service in order to express a political position. We see the incident as severe and serious disciplinary action will be taken.
“There is no room in the IDF for refusal to serve,” Almoz said.
The letter from members of the 8200 signal intelligence unit was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Army Radio reported Friday, as well to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Aviv Kochavi, who heads the Military Intelligence Directorate.
“The intelligence gathered harms innocents and is used for political persecution and for invading most areas of Palestinians’ lives,” the 43 reservists wrote. “Our conscience no longer permits us to serve this system.”
In response to the letter, more than 200 former soldiers and officers from the 8200 unit published a letter saying they were “ashamed” of their fellow servicemen.
“We wish to express our dismay, disgust and complete disavowal of our friend’s unfortunate letter,” they wrote. “Refusal to serve on the basis of politics has no room in the IDF and certainly not in Unit 8200. When we as reserve soldiers are called to serve, we put our orientations and political opinions aside and serve our country.”
The response letter said that “when ethical dilemmas arose, we saw they were seriously and maturely addressed in accordance with international law and the IDF’s ethical code.”