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An Israel Air Force fighter pilot joined the 27 signatories of the pilots' letter of refusal, in which they stated they would not participate in operations in the territories against civilian targets.

Meanwhile, one of the signatories has retracted his support, admitting that the pressure was overwhelming.

Lieutenant Colonel Eli, an ace fighter pilot, announced that he was adding his signature to the refusal letter.

Eli, who serves as a flight instructor, along with Colonel Yiftah Spector, one of the original 27 signatories, said he decided to add his signature following IAF Chief Dan Halutz's announcement that harsher measures would be taken against flight instructors who signed the letter, saying they were not "the people who should educate the next generation of pilots."

Halutz ordered all the signatories on active duty - nine in all - to be grounded pending an investigation.

He said he planned to treat the signatories "in the same way as the IDF has dealt with refuseniks until now. This method has proven itself."

He called the refusal to serve "the mother of all dangers" to Israel.

The nine pilots will be called to meetings with the heads of their bases in the coming days. If they do not retract their statement, they will be dismissed from active service.

Earlier yesterday, Colonel Ran, one of the original 27 signatories, said he regretted signing the letter and had changed his mind about the move.In a letter to the IAF chief, the active-duty pilot wrote that, following responses he received from family and friends, he realized his original intention was misunderstood.

The colonel said in his letter that it was now clear to him that the path he took was wrong, causing his family and friends to view him as a refusenik though "he was not one." He stressed he "has never refused to carry out a command."

Ran said he decided to sign the letter of refusal due to feelings of bitterness and frustration that had been building up for many years. "My feeling is that the many years of occupation have corrupted us as a people and have blurred the line between good and evil, right and wrong," he wrote.

Despite his feelings, he said he did all he could to continue serving in the IAF and train pilots.