FW: Revolt among Israeli reservists grows

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Mon Feb 11 09:01:38 MST 2002

Sharon suspends reservists as revolt in the ranks grows

By Phil Reeves

February 6, 2002


Israel's armed forces have decided to suspend scores of
reserve soldiers from their posts in an effort to quell
the largest internal revolt in the ranks since the start
of the 16-month Palestinian uprising.

The reservists, who include combat officers, have signed a
petition saying they will refuse to serve in the occupied
West Bank and Gaza Strip because Israel is "dominating,
expelling, starving and humiliating" the Palestinian

By yesterday, the petition had 173 names. The figure has
risen from 100 in less than a week, adding momentum to an
acrimonious national debate. It is the first big rift in
Israeli public opinion over Israel's conduct of the
conflict since Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in
a landslide victory 11 months ago.

The army has reacted with annoyance and unease, not least
because it makes wide use of reservists to patrol and
guard Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

The refuseniks insist that their objections are
principled, and have stressed that they are willing to
defend Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

One of them, Lieutenant Ishai Sagi, has described how,
during one two-week stint in the West Bank, he was ordered
to open fire at Palestinians who picked up stones for
throwing at the troops. "There were no specifics about
whether [the person] was a child, a woman or an elderly
man," he said, "And there were no specifics as to where to
shoot [the person]."

He told one interviewer: "I don't think that what the
Israeli Defence Forces do in the territories contributes
in any way to defending Israel itself ...

"Everything that we do in there - all the horrors, all the
tearing down of houses and trees, all the roadblocks,
everything - is just for one purpose, the settlers, who I
believe are illegally there. So I believe that the
[orders] that I got were illegal and I won't do them

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