News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terrorisraeldissent — Viewing Item

Elite israeli troops refuse to serve in territories { December 22 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Elite Israeli Troops Refuse To Serve in the Territories

By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 22, 2003; Page A19

JERUSALEM, Dec. 21 -- Thirteen reservists from Israel's elite military commando unit stated Sunday in a letter to the prime minister that they would no longer serve in the occupied territories, joining other influential security officials who have recently criticized Israeli military tactics and treatment of the Palestinians.

"We have long ago crossed the line between fighters fighting a just cause and oppressing another people," three officers and 10 soldiers of the army's most secretive unit, the Sayeret Matkal, said in the letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The letter was made public by the soldiers, who signed with their ranks, first names and the first letter of their last names.

The reservists said they were taking the dramatic step of publicly criticizing their government's policies "out of deep fear for the future of the state of Israel as a democratic, Zionist and Jewish country and out of concern for its moral and ethical image."

"It is very grave and unfortunate that reservists use the unit in which they served as a platform for publicizing their political views," said an Israeli military spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The condemnation of government policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the commandos echoes similar recent remarks by a group of 27 reserve pilots, four former chiefs of Israel's powerful domestic security service, the military's current chief of staff, and a separate list of 574 army reservists. The statements by reservists are being organized by a group calling itself Courage to Refuse.

The criticism from within the Israeli military and security forces has unsettled the Sharon administration and has contributed to discontent expressed in the last few months by many segments of Israeli society over the government's handling of the Palestinian uprising, now in its fourth year.

Political analysts said the comments from soldiers and military officers on operations in the occupied territories was one of the reasons Sharon announced last week that his government would unilaterally establish what he called a security line between the West Bank and Israel if the Palestinian Authority did not act quickly to stem terrorism.

An open protest letter from members of a military unit that has been involved in dozens of the Israeli military's most sensitive operations is highly unusual, analysts said.

"This is the number-one military unit in Israel," said Yagil Levy, author of a recent book on the Israeli military. "Until 10 years ago nobody could even mention its name publicly because it was covered by censorship regulations. It is a very mysterious unit responsible for the most heroic missions the Israeli Defense Forces have ever made."

Members of the commando unit specialize in counterterrorism, assassinations and rescue missions. One of their most famous operations was the 1976 rescue of hostages from a hijacked French airplane in Entebbe, Uganda. Israeli documents declassified after last week's capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein confirmed accounts that the unit planned an assassination attempt against Hussein in 1992, but it was aborted when five commandos were killed during a rehearsal for the mission.

Some of Israel's most prominent current and former leaders have been members of the commando unit, including former prime minister Ehud Barak; Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, chief of staff of the armed forces; and the director of the Shin Bet security agency, Avi Dichter.

Although the unit does not participate in routine activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it has reportedly been involved in some of the most critical missions, involving intelligence gathering and assassinations of Palestinians.

The 13 reserve officers and soldiers accused the Israeli government of "depriving the rights of millions of Palestinians" and using soldiers as "human shields for the settlements."

The letter said, "We will no longer butcher our humanity by taking part in an occupying army's missions."

At least two reservists from the unit were jailed last year by the military for refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories. It was unclear whether those two were among the signatories of the letter because the names of the jailed men has not been divulged publicly.

Effi Eitam, a reserve general and the head of the National Religious Party, which strongly supports Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, said, "Those who signed are not worthy of being called soldiers," the Associated Press reported.

Separately on Sunday, Israeli military activities continued in the West Bank, where a six-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammad Naim Isryda, was shot in the chest and killed while playing near his house in the Balata refugee camp on the edge of Nablus, Palestinian medical officials reported. Israeli military officials said soldiers opened fire on the area after a homemade explosive was thrown at them. Another youngster from the camp, Nur Emran, 13, died from injuries he suffered on Tuesday, when an Israeli soldier shot him in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. The soldiers opened fire on youths who were throwing stones, bricks and bottles, a military spokesman said. The spokesman said the military had not received any formal complaint that a youth had been hit.

2003 The Washington Post Company

150 thousand israelis rally for gaza exit { May 16 2004 }
27 israeli pilots refuse bomb civilians
Aglicans call for israel sanctions { September 24 2004 }
Albert einsert calls israel fascist state
Amnesty accuses israel of rights abuses impunity
Amnesty accuses warcrimes { November 4 2002 }
Anna nicole smith
Anti israeli dress [jpg]
Anti israeli dress { September 19 2002 }
Arab priest calls for christian bombers { January 14 2003 }
Auschwitz visitors with israeli flag verbally assaulted { August 10 2004 }
Boycott [jpg]
British workers union to boycott israeli goods
Britons palestinians { April 24 2002 }
Britons rank israel worst country
Buchanan says arabs have a point { January 16 2006 }
Bush administration objects to israeli purchase { March 23 2006 }
Bush letter criticizes { October 14 2002 }
Bush pullout { May 2 2002 }
Christendom zionist
Christian letter
Christians ashamed
Church leaders israelis tightening
Courage to refuse
Critics on campuses
Desmond israel { April 29 2002 }
Desmond tutu { October 17 2002 }
Dublin palestinian
Elite israeli troops refuse to serve in territories { December 22 2003 }
Eu adds duties to settlement products { November 26 2003 }
Eu embarrased as poll labels israel biggest threat
Europeans distrust of israel { January 30 2005 }
Filipino nonukes group hails release of israeli whistleblower { April 21 2004 }
Former spanish pm says europe supports palestinians
Invisible enemy
Israel maybe guilty warcrimes { November 1 2000 }
Israel releases british journalist on nuclear story
Israeli ambassador destroys sweden museum exhibit { January 17 2004 }
Israeli sees WWII similarities { May 24 2004 }
Israeli teens oppose
Israelis fear arrests { November 12 2002 }
Israelis refuse wp { January 29 2002 }
Isreal and US top worst image worldwide
Its_The_Occupation_Stupid [jpg]
Jews oust hilliard { June 26 2002 }
July 18 israeli consulate protest ny [jpg]
Mitchell report cnn
Mitchell report { December 2 2001 }
Mordechai vanunu arrested again
Nixon planned to go after israelis { May 27 2004 }
Nuclear whistleblower restricted from leaving israel
Oliver stone
Ousted rep hilliard
Paris airport palestine { July 5 2002 }
Pope humilated
Pope peace
Prime minister daughter active for israeli peace
Pro israel group makes video attacking professor { April 4 2005 }
Refuse to fight
Settlers willing relocate
Shark [jpg]
Step down
Sting sings
Target nonviolence { August 14 2002 }
Telaviv protest
Telephone bomb threat follows campus debate
Un chastises
Unpopular { July 30 2002 }
Us rabbis protest home demolition policies { January 16 2004 }
US vetoes UN condemnation of israel gaza strikes { October 2006 }
Vanunu israeli nuclear whistleblower is released
War wont bring economic salvation { May 6 2003 }
Washington post questions israeli lobby power { July 16 2006 }
Withdraw { April 4 2002 }

Files Listed: 76


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple