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Israeli soldiers refuse to serve in occupied territories

a Refusenik Letter:

We, reserve combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who were raised upon the principles of Zionism, sacrifice and giving to the people of Israel and to the State of Israel, who have always served in the front lines, and who were the first to carry out any mission, light or heavy, in order to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it.

We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people. We, whose eyes have seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides.

We, who sensed how the commands issued to us in the Territories, destroy all the values we had absorbed while growing up in this country.

We, who understand now that the price of Occupation is the loss of IDF’s human character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society.

We, who know that the Territories are not Israel, and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated in the end.

We hereby declare that we shall not continue to fight this War of the Settlements. We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.

We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel’s defense.

The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose—and we shall take no part in them.

Three signers sentenced to prison

Amit Gal, 31, father of a four-year-old son, has served in the paratroopers since 1989. His uncle on his mother’s side was killed in 1968 as a commando soldier, His uncle on his father side was killed in 1973 in the 73 war. His father was handicapped during his service in the IDF in the past. Before his trial he contacted his commanders and asked not to be stationed in the territories. He requested to be assigned to anything else available. Despite his requests his CO met him this Sunday, cursed him (he later apologized), and then Amit was sentenced by his regiment commander to 28 days in Military Prison 4.

Sharon Shmila, 29, is married, a father of a ten-month-old baby girl, and serves as an officer in an infantry unit (GOLANI). Before his recent service he contacted his commanders and asked to be reassigned to a location out side of the territories. His CO sentenced him to 28 days in Military Prison 6.

Some Jewish sources

—Shamai Leibowitz attorney, Tel Aviv. Graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion, translated by Cheryl Leibowitz-Schmidt

The governmental decision to remain in the disputed territories leads to the viewing of most, if not all, Palestinians as enemies and anyone who is connected to the enemy is a fair target.

Collective Punishment

Issues related to the practice of collective punishment (where this involves punishing innocents who are part of the collective) appear in a number of instances in Jewish sources.

Abraham’s Refusal One could consider our forefather Avraham as the first “conscientious objector to collective punishment” for his refusal to participate in or condone collective punishment. He was even willing to risk punishment himself in order to try to dissuade God from His intention to mete out collective punishment to Sodom and Gemora. His argument with God is described in Genesis:

“If there are fifty righteous within the city, will You indeed sweep away and not forgive the city for the fifty?
It is far from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the winches
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?” (Genesis 18:24-25).

Here Avraham courageously questions God and appeals His decision to destroy entire cities. Avraham’s questioning of the impending collective punishment succeeded in persuading G-d, so to speak, to reconsider. The implication is that collective punishment, where it includes innocents, is not acceptable, and only those who have sinned should be punished for their own wrongdoing.

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