More than 400 people, including a number of professors, signed a petition calling upon Israel Air Force pilots to refuse to obey if they are ordered to bomb Iran. Such an act would harm Israel, and the pilots could be captured, the petition stated.

The petition, circulated online, addresses the pilots “out of a deep sense of concern” regarding the situation Israel faces in Iran. “We don’t know your names,” the document states. “We do know one thing — at this moment our fate, our very future, lies very much in your hands.”

The list of signatories includes professors Menachem Mautner, the former dean of law at Tel Aviv University; Anat Biletzki, the former head of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem; and Nurith Gertz of Sapir College.

The petition warns the pilots could receive “the fateful order” very soon, possibly in the next few weeks. “You also have the option of saying no,” it insists.

Pilots who refuse orders could face serious consequences, the petition acknowledges. But they need to consider whether carrying out an attack order serves the country’s interests. Saying no “would be infinitely more important than blind obedience to this particular order,” the petition argues.

Among reasons to not attack Iran, the writers of the document cite potential retaliation against Israeli cities, the possibility of radioactive materials leaking and harming Iranians, global financial disaster and the danger of a plane being downed and a pilot captured.

A development such as the latter would cause “moral and political dilemmas dwarfing those involved in the case of Gilad Shalit” — the soldier kidnapped in 2006 by Hamas from inside the southern border, held hostage for five years in Gaza, and brought home in a complex and controversial prisoner exchange last October.

Finally, the writers assert that a strike against Iran’s nuclear program would not terminate it but only, in the best-case scenario, delay it.

Mautner, the former law school dean who is one of the signatories, told the Makor Rishon newspaper he didn’t want to address the pilots and would rather the decision makers not order a military strike. However, he said, “I will sign anything that could avert the greatest disaster Israel faces since it was founded.”

Mautner said it would be in Israel’s national interest to let the US lead such an attack, which he saw as a legal and legitimate course of action. It was a unilateral strike with no US backing that worried him, he explained.

While there were over 400 signatures, not all of them were by people who took the petition seriously. Adolf Hitler’s name was on the list, as were those of Sara Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat.