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IDF Pilots refusing to serve in territories

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    Halutz: Pilots refusing to serve in territories will face law By Amos Harel Haaretz 25 September 2003 http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/343998.html Air
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2003
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      Halutz: Pilots refusing to serve in territories will face law

      By Amos Harel

      Haaretz
      25 September 2003

      http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/343998.html

      Air Force Commander Dan Halutz on Thursday issued an order to ground
      nine pilots who signed a letter refusing to take part in operations
      in the territories.

      Altogether 27 reserve pilots signed the letter, details of which
      were published last week in Haaretz, but only nine of them still do
      active duty with the force.

      The signatories, who sent the letter to Air Force Commander Dan
      Halutz, described aerial activity in the territories as "illegal and
      immoral."

      Halutz told Haaretz on Wednesday night he planned to treat the
      signatories "in the same way as the IDF has dealt with refuseniks
      until now. This method has proven itself."

      The nine pilots will be called to meetings with the heads of their
      bases in the coming days and if they do not retract their statement,
      they will be dismissed from active service.

      Halutz has also ordered the grounding of those pilots who signed the
      letter and who serve today as flight instructors at the flight
      school at the Hatzerim base in the south of the country. "These are
      not the people who should educate the next generation of pilots,"
      Halutz said.

      The signatories to the letter wrote they would refuse to take part
      in aerial attacks on populated Palestinian areas in the territories.
      "We, both veteran and active pilots, who have served and who still
      serve the state of Israel, are opposed to carrying out illegal and
      immoral orders to attack, of the type Israel carries out in the
      territories," the letter states. "We, for whom the IDF and the air
      force are an integral part of our being, refuse to continue to hit
      innocent civilians ... The continued occupation is critically
      harming the country's security" and moral fiber, it added.

      Among the signatories is Brigadier General Yiftah Spector (res.),
      who was a squadron leader during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

      "We must keep things in the right proportions, we are talking about
      only 27 out of thousands of pilots," Halutz told Channel 10 news.

      "There is no corps and army more humane and moral than us."

      Former president and one-time air force commander Ezer Weizman
      attacked the group, saying they lacked "morality," that their act of
      publishing a letter was a "disgrace," and that they should "put
      their tail between their legs" and get out of the air force "as
      quickly as possible."

      He likened the call to refuse orders to a "cancer" which had to be
      cut out "immediately, before it spreads."

      Halutz has ordered an investigation into the legality of wearing
      pilots' flightsuits during interviews the pilots gave to Channel Two
      last night. Halutz said he believes the uniform can be worn only
      during reserve duty. If the interviews were given during reserve
      duty, the pilots had to get IDF permission, he noted.

      "Uniforms can not be used to put across a political message," he
      said. Halutz added that he personally was completely at one with the
      deployment of the air force in the territories, saying that a great
      deal of consideration was employed.

      According to one military source, many of the signatories had
      stopped flying some 15 years ago because of their age. Only one
      flies an Apache of the type that takes part in targeted
      assassinations and one flies an F-16 fighter bomber, used sometimes
      for bombing targets in the territories. It is not clear if either of
      the two has actually been involved in activity in the territories.

      Two others are pilots of Blackhawks, a transport plane, and another
      teaches cadets to fly an F-15.

      "This is an attempt to inject new blood into a subject that is dead
      both from the public and media point of view - refusal. It is not
      clear why the pilots did not first speak to their commanders. Their
      behavior was not ethical," one senior source said last night.

      Halutz last night sent a circular to senior air force commanders
      with details of the affair. "Most of the signatories have never
      participated in targeted assassinations in the territories. They are
      not active fighers or do not serve in squadrons which deal with
      that," he said.

      Halutz noted that "no order had ever been issued to hit innocent
      people. Sometimes we took decisions that were not optimal because we
      wanted to avoid hurting innocent civilians."

      Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon described the affair as "a political
      statement made in army uniforms. This is in no way legitimate," he
      said.

      The initiative for the letter was formulated over a period of about
      three months following the death of a large number of civilians
      during the aerial attack on Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh in Gaza last
      year. The idea met with a great deal of soul-searching inside the
      IDF.

      Captain Yonatan, speaking on behalf of the signatories, said last
      night: "We are all loyal citizens of the state of Israel. We have
      taken this step after deep thought and much soul-searching. As
      officers and pilots, we have been given the heavy responsibility of
      operating a most powerful war machine. As people who were educated
      with the moral code of the IDF and the state of Israel, we have
      decided to ... obey the order that obliges us not to carry out an
      order that is blatantly illegal."

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