Dozens of veterans of an elite Israeli military intelligence unit have said they will no longer serve in operations spying against Palestinians.
43 officers and staff, past and present, signed a letter about Unit 8200, which carries out electronic surveillance, saying it values no distinction between Palestinians who are, and are not, involved in violence.
“Information that is collected and stored harms innocent people. This does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”
Their letter is copied below…
(READ more from the BBC)
We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.
It is commonly thought that the service in military intelligence is free of moral dilemmas and solely contributes to the reduction of violence and harm to innocent people. However, our military service has taught us that intelligence is an integral part of Israel’s military occupation over the territories. The Palestinian population under military rule is completely exposed to espionage and surveillance by Israeli intelligence. While there are severe limitations on the surveillance of Israeli citizens, the Palestinians are not afforded this protection. There’s no distinction between Palestinians who are, and are not, involved in violence. Information that is collected and stored harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself. In many cases, intelligence prevents defendants from receiving a fair trial in military courts, as the evidence against them is not revealed. Intelligence allows for the continued control over millions of people through thorough and intrusive supervision and invasion of most areas of life. This does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence further distancing us from the end of the conflict.
Millions of Palestinians have been living under Israeli military rule for over 47 years. This regime denies the basic rights and expropriates extensive tracts of land for Jewish settlements subject to separate and different legal systems, jurisdiction and law enforcement. This reality is not an inevitable result of the state’s efforts to protect itself but rather the result of choice. Settlement expansion has nothing to do with national security. The same goes for restrictions on construction and development, economic exploitation of the West Bank, collective punishment of inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, and the actual route of the separation barrier.
In light of all this, we have concluded that as individuals who served in Unit 8200, we must take responsibility for our part in this situation and it is our moral duty to act. We cannot continue to serve this system in good conscience, denying the rights of millions of people. Therefore, those among us who are reservists, refuse to take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians. We call for all soldiers serving in the Intelligence Corps, present and future, along with all the citizens of Israel, to speak out against these injustices and to take action to bring them to an end. We believe that Israel’s future depends on it.
Senior Academic Officer Or, First Sergeant Ori, Sergeant Ella, Sergeant ***, Sergeant First Class Amitai, Captain Assaf, Lieutenant Assaf, First Sergeant Ariel, First Sergeant Guy, Sergeant First Class Galia, Lieutenant Gilad, First Sergeant Doron, Captain D, Professional Academic Officer H, First Sergeant T, First Sergeant Tal, Sergeant First Class Yair, First Sergeant Yoav, First Sergeant Yuval, Lieutenant Yonatan, Sergeant First Class Lior, Sergeant Liron, Sergeant Maya, Sergeant Michal, First Sergeant Menahem, First Sergeant Nadav, Sergeant Noa, First Sergeant Sa’ar, First Sergeant Eden, Sergeant Idan, Professional Academic Officer Amir, First Sergeant Amit, Sergeant K, Sergeant Keren, Sergeant First Class Regev, First Sergeant Roi, Sergeant R, First Sergeant Rotem, First Sergeant Shira, Major Shmulik, First Sergeant Schraga, Sergeant Sheri, Senior Academic Officer Tomer
(Letter contents from the Guardian)