© Reuters/Baz Ratner
The Israeli military has threatened disciplinary action against 43 veteran servicemen who signed an open letter refusing to spy on the Palestinians for the IDF's elite military intelligence Unit 8200.
"There is no room for insubordination in the IDF," spokesman Moti Almoz said. "
There are disputes and (opposing) political positions" but the military is not the place to take political actions designed to schism, he stressed.
We in the IDF, up to the most senior officer, view this severely, and the disciplinary action will be loud and clear," Almoz vowed.
The IDF statement comes in response to an open letter of refusal that has been sent to the Israeli prime minister, the IDF chief and the head of military intelligence. In it, 43 past and present reservists openly proclaim that they refuse to serve in military intelligence. In witness testimonies, they detail the strategies used by Israel.
Their particular concern is the methods being used to collect information, among them blackmailing individuals to serve as IDF informants. "Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife, or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank - he is a target for blackmail," one testimony reads.
Such means of obtaining information throws the legitimacy and indeed the actual existence of the unit into question, as it does not necessarily serve Israel's national interest. Testimonies claim that there is no mechanism that monitors whether individual freedoms are respected.
"The notion of rights for Palestinians does not exist at all, not even as an idea to be disregarded," one witness statement said. "Any Palestinian may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions, such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion, or even direct physical injury."
The open letter says the servicemen cannot continue their service "in good conscience, denying the rights of millions of people," and acknowledges that they "refuse to take part in the state's action against Palestinians," especially after Israel's recent military campaign in Gaza.