IDF Dismisses Intel Reservists Who Refused to Serve Over Palestinian 'Persecution'

Accuses the 43 who wrote public letter of ‘exploiting service to express political stance’; reservists had said information the elite 8200 unit gathers is being used to harm innocents.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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The IDF's Unit 8200's base in central Israel.
The IDF's Unit 8200's base in central Israel.Credit: David Bachar
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces announced Monday that it is terminating reservist duty for the 43 members of the 8200 intel unit who published a letter in September saying their work against Palestinians was frequently immoral, and that they would refuse to serve in the unit any longer.

The reservists’ letter sparked responses across the political spectrum, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the protesters were exploiting their army service for political ends. The IDF had stated that “sharp and clear” disciplinary action would be taken against them. .

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said on Monday, “There is no place in the IDF for refusal [to serve], and we view the exploitation of military service for the expression of a political stance gravely. In the case at hand, in light of the conduct of the reservists, which is not in keeping with what is expected of them, it has been decided to terminate their reserve service in the unit.”

In the protest letter, which was sent to Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the heads of the Intelligence Corps and Unit 8200, the signatories said they would not continue to be an “instrument in deepening military rule in the occupied territories,” and thus would cease doing reserve duty in the unit.

The reservists maintained that information the unit gathers is being used to harm innocent people, and is “serving political persecution and the creation of division in Palestinian society, by recruiting collaborators and turning portions of Palestinian society against itself.”

The signatories, the most senior of whom was a major, wrote that their consciences did not allow them “to continue to serve this system, and to do harm to the rights of millions of human beings.”

The commander of Unit 8200, Brig. Gen. “A.,” recently wrote a letter stating that the protesters’ reserve duty will be terminated. Based on contact that Haaretz has had with a number of the signatories, it appears they have not been officially informed of the move.

The unit commander’s letter, quoted by the Walla! website, said, “You have crossed the fine line separating politics and military service, a separation line that enables us in the unit to continue to supply quality intelligence [meeting] all of the needs of the IDF and of various intelligence organizations and the government of Israel.”

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