Former IDF spokesman Moti Almoz.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
The chief IDF spokesman said Sunday that a group of reservists who said they would refuse orders because of their disagreement with the army’s conduct in the West Bank were “using their military service to express political opinions.”
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz addressed the soldiers via his Facebook page. “8200. There is no place for refusal of service in the IDF. There are disagreements and there are political views. The celebration of democracy. We in the IDF constitute one common camp – perhaps the widest in all of Israeli society – and we think several times before we express political stances in forums not meant for such expression.”
Almoz said the IDF views “severely” the use of service in the military as a platform to express political opinions and the “disciplinary measures will be loud and clear.”
The IDF spokesman said the investigation into the incident was drawing to a close and he emphasized that “only 10 of the 43 people who signed the letter are actually in the circle of activity, while the rest are merely support staff.”
Almoz said if he could explain only a fraction of what the secretive unit does, he would not need to explain how serious a violation the refuseniks are committing.
In the letter in question, the reservists wrote: “The intelligence that is gathered [in the West Bank] harms innocent people and is used for the purposes of political persecution and violating the privacy of Palestinians.”
“We are conscientiously incapable of continuing to serve this system.”
Unit 8200 is the military’s primary signal-intelligence body. The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in a statement over the weekend: “Unit 8200 has been working daily since its founding to gather intelligence, which allows the IDF and security bodies to carry out their duties. It assists in the defense of Israeli civilians every day.”
“The Unit operates through a range of means and in many arenas, while activating techniques and rules for intelligence purposes only.
Those who serve in the unit are trained, after a lengthy and meticulous process, and undergo a program that has no equivalent in any other intelligence community in Israel or the world. During the training, a special emphasis is placed on the field of ethics, morality and working rules.
These are applied throughout the service of the soldiers and officers in the unit, who are continuously monitored by commanders of various ranks.”
The spokesman’s office said that “concrete claims” made by some of those who signed the protest letter, which were brought up in an interview published on Friday by Ynet, “are not known to the Military Intelligence Directorate.”
The fact that those who wrote the letter spoke to the media “before speaking to their commanders or to the relevant officers in the IDF is strange and raises doubts about the seriousness of the claims,” the statement continued.
“Throughout the years, and in recent years especially, the unit has received daily evaluations, which sometimes result in citations and Israel security prizes. Regarding claims that innocents are harmed, the process of authorizing targets in the IDF is long and meticulous, and takes into account the issue of noncombatants.”
The commanders of Unit 8200 are expected to dishonorably discharge the 43 reservists who signed the letter, Channel 10 reported Friday.