‘These operations, and not our letter, are what make military service political.’ The 43 reservist soldiers who refused to serve in the IDF respond to their dismissal.
The commander of the IDF’s highly prestigious 8200 intelligence unit dismissed all 43 reservist soldiers who previously declared their refusal to serve in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu last September. The letter, which caused a great deal of controversy, cited Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian people in the occupied territories as a policy of choice, rather than of self-defense, which violates basic human rights.
In a letter addressed to the reservists, the commander wrote that their choice to refuse was “a mistake.” “You crossed a fine line that distinguishes between politics and military service, a separation line that allows us in the unit to continue providing quality intelligence for all the IDF’s needs and various security organization and the Israeli government,” Walla! quoted the letter as saying.
The reservists published a statement Monday afternoon responding to their dismissal:
We discovered that we were dismissed from our unit a few hours ago after reading about it in the news. None of us have received any notice from the unit or IDF. Unfortunately, the unit is choosing to cope with the claims we have raised by throwing us out of the unit, as if the harsh reality will disappear together with us. The testimonies that were published are not rumors, but our testimonies, first hand testimonies about our actions that were part of the routine of our service, from soldiers who served and believed in the unit…
The commander of the unit and the IDF Spokesperson do not deny that the needs of the military regime’s intelligence in the territories include gathering information about innocents without any restrictions, as well as blackmailing uninvolved individuals on the basis of medical information and their sexual tendencies. Indeed, as the unit commander says, there is a fine line that distinguishes between politics and the military: but these operations, and not our letter, are what make military service political.
At the time of its publishing, Prime Minister Netanyahu called the refusal latter “baseless slander,” while opposition leader, Labor Party chairman and now head of the “Zionist Camp” Isaac Herzog – himself a former 8200 unit soldier – condemned the move as a “call for subordination.”
8200 is considered an elite unit within the intelligence corps of the army, responsible for both internal and foreign signals intelligence-gathering, alongside the Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. Many of its members are known for their Arabic language skills, which are used to monitor life and media in the Arab and Palestinian world. Perhaps its strongest reputation is as Israel’s high-tech incubator, developing the cutting edge technology related to communications, focused on hacking, and encrypting, decoding and transmitting information.
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