TEL AVIV (dpa)- Forty-three Israeli intelligence officers publicly refused to contribute to missions targeting Palestinians on Friday, in an act of resistance to a conflict they deem unconscionable.
The move comes amid sharp criticism from human rights groups of Israel’s tactics during the recent 50-day conflict in Gaza, in which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis died.
“We cannot, in good conscience, continue to serve in this system and to violate the rights of millions of people,” the soldiers said in a letter published by Israeli media on Friday.
A major and several captains from Unit 8200 – the largest military unit and one tasked with elite signals intelligence and decryption – signed the letter, which says the soldiers “refuse to be a tool for deepening the military control in the occupied territories.”
The harshly worded statement also states that intelligence is used to harm innocent civilians, enables political persecution and causes divisions within Palestinian society through the recruitment of collaborators.
The full names of the people signing the letter were not made public. The soldiers were also critical of the Israeli settlement policy, which involves building Jewish-only towns on the occupied West Bank. In the letter, the soldiers say the future of the state of Israel depends on citizens calling for policy change.
During Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas and other militant groups, more than 50 Israelis said they were refusing to serve.
Over the years there have been numerous movements calling for young Israelis and reservists to refuse duty, but many men and women continue to heed the mandatory draft.