43 veterans of Israel’s most elite military spy unit have sent a letter to Israel’s Prime Minister saying they can no longer be a part of intrusive intelligence gathering which supports Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Citing a moral duty to act, the past and present reservists of Israel Defence Forces intelligence Unit 8200 condemn Israel for overreaching in Palestine and reveal deep concerns over Israeli intelligence work.
The veterans say their military service “has taught us that intelligence is an integral part of Israel’s military occupation over the territories.”
Israel exercises tight control over Palestinian territory, with IDF troops actively occupying the West Bank since 1967 and currently protecting more than 500,000 Israeli settlers who continue to build on Palestinian land.
The group says the occupation goes beyond what is required for state security, writing that the government denies basic rights and “expropriates extensive tracts of land for Jewish settlements subject to separate and different legal systems, jurisdiction and law enforcement.”
The veterans say that while there are strict limitations on surveillance of Israeli citizens, no such protections are afforded to Palestinians. “There’s no distinction between Palestinians who are, and are not, involved in violence,” they write.
The group states that Israeli security services are part of a system of intrusive control which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”
“Information that is collected and stored harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself. In many cases, intelligence prevents defendants from receiving a fair trial in military courts, as the evidence against them is not revealed,” the group writes.
In a statement published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, an IDF Spokesperson said Unit 8200 worked to enable army and security agencies to protect Israeli citizens.
“The fact that the alleged signatories of this letter contacted the media before bringing their complaints to their commanding officers or relevant agencies in the army is surprising and raises doubts regarding the sincerity of their claims,” The IDF said.
“As for the claims about harm done to innocent people, the process of gaining approval for targets in the army, which is long and meticulous, also takes the topic of uninvolved parties into account,” the spokesperson said.
You can read the full letter here, published by the Danish newspaper Berlingske:
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