The Israel Defense Forces has dismissed 43 reserve soldiers from its most prestigious intelligence unit after they publicly denounced alleged abuses against Palestinians.
In a letter published by Israeli media in September, the 43 reservists, who belonged to the 8200 spying unit, said they refused to serve in order to avoid participating in injustices carried out against the Palestinians.
The public missive came out shortly after last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas government, and 72 Israelis.
The 8200 unit specializes in cyber defense.
The soldiers, both men and women, said they refused to “continue serving the system which affects the rights of millions of people.”
They also criticized the “political persecution” their spying activities involved.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told The Times of Israel in a statement Tuesday that the army “views with great severity any attempt to elude mandatory military service especially when the act is intended to make a political statement.
“As for the specific incident, due to the behavior of the reserve soldiers that poses a violation of the standards and morals of the IDF, the unit commander decided to end their military service,” the statement said.
IDF spokesman Moti Almoz said in September that the IDF would hand down a “sharp and clear punishment” to the objectors for exploiting their “military service to express a political stance.”
The letter garnered criticism from both right- and left-wing parties at the time.