Transcript of interview with three members of Unit 8200 in which they explain why they refuse to work in Palestinian territories
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More than 40 soldiers in Unit 8200 sign a letter accusing the military of "abuses" in Palestinian and refusing to serve An Israeli soldier carries a computer unit seized from a factory in Hebron during a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants
Three signatories of the Israeli military intelligence refusenik letter agreed to be interviewed by the Guardian to discuss what motivated their concerns. They are all members of Unit 8200 - known in Hebrew as Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim - Israel's largest signals intelligence gathering unit, active both abroad and in the Palestinian territories.
All three are now on the active reserve list and have said they will not do reserve service relating to the occupied Palestinian territories. Of the three, "A", aged 32, and Nadav, 26, are sergeants, while "D", 29, is a captain.
By agreement with the letter's signatories, material relating to specific claims regarding the unit was provided in statements that they chose to disclose to the Israeli military censor. In face-to-face interviews they agreed to discuss what motivated them to sign the letter, declining to discuss specifics.
Below is a transcript of the Guardian's interview conducted earlier this week in collaboration with several other media outlets. It has been lightly edited for repetition, brevity and sense. Two minor amendments were made at the request of the soldiers to clarify meaning.
How did you organise the letter?
For a couple of months friends [have been] joining and [it's been] growing slowly ... most of them are still active. We've been thinking about it for maybe a year.
It was a difficult dilemma. We were worried that this action would be seen only as a response to the war in Gaza and it is important to us to make it clear this is about the 'normal' situation [of the occupation].
We didn't want it to be interpreted only in this context. We decided before the recent war to do this. For me there wasn't any particular trigger. It was a long process of realising ...
When people talk about the role that intelligence services play in non-democratic regimes usually their hair stands on their back a bit and they shudder.
And that's not the way I thought about the military service that I did [at first]. It was a gradual realisation that this was me [as well]. That I was playing that role. That made me see in a different light what I've done and take this action.
I still feel very committed to how I was raised, and that's what makes it so difficult. I still feel part of [Israeli] society.
I think because we are part of [Israeli] society is the reason [that] we are doing it. It is not an act against everything that is done ...
We feel it as an act of taking responsibility for the things we take part in. But we also see it as part of a deep concern for the society we live in. We're not trying to break away from it or anything like that.