Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denounced as "baseless slander" the letter sent to him and the country's military leaders by 43 members of the storied 8200 signal intelligence unit, in which they declared their refusal to do reserve service because of Israel's "political persecution" of the Palestinians.
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Speaking at a cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University, Netanyahu also said that Iran helped Hamas conduct cyber attacks on Israel during Operation Protective Edge. "Iran is the source of most of the cyber attacks against Israel," he said.
Regarding the letter by the Unit 8200 dissidents, which has caused a storm of controversy in Israel since its publication on Friday, Netanyahu said, "This is an act that should be condemned and that constitutes political exploitation of the Israel Defense Forces.
"The IDF is the most moral army in the world and it carries out the missions that we give it to safeguard our security," said the prime minister. "From my long years of acquaintance with the members of Unit 8200, the baseless slander leveled against them will not harm the vitally important work they do for the nation's security. And I say to them – continue."
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz wrote on his Facebook page Sunday that the reservists' refusal to serve was viewed by the army with utmost severity and that "the disciplinary treatment would be sharp and clear."
The soldiers and commanders who signed the letter have used the army to express a political stance, Almoz said, adding: "There is no place for refusal in the IDF. There are arguments and there are political stances. Celebration of democracy. ... What happened here, in my eyes? Exploitation of military service to express a political stance."