Sharon Suspends Reservists as Revolt in the Ranks Grows

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
population.

2002.02.06


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 population.


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
again.”


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Author: Phil Reeves

News Service: The Independent (UK)

URL: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=118431