Israeli Air Force pilots in reserves:
We refuse to attack in the Territories

Twenty five pilots, former pilots, and air crew sent a petition today (Wednesday 24 September 03) to General Dan Halutz, Commander of the  Air Force, in which  they declared that they will not participate in attack  missions in the territories.

An article to be published in the weekend magazine of Yediot Aharonot reports that the most outstanding name among those who signed is that of Yiftah Spector, a Brigadier General in the reserves.

Spector is a pilot of mythic reputation in the Air Force, who  commanded squadrons and bases, participated in the  bombing of the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and was a  candidate for corps commander. Young pilots are raised  on battle stories about Spector and on books that he himself wrote. He  still flies in the  Air Force as a trainer in the reserves for the flight school.

According to those who signed the letter, "gray refusal" is already widespread in the Air Force, and includes even pilots in the standing army. There are dozens of pilots who refuse to participate in assassinations, but get out of them quietly in private arrangements with the commander of the squadron.

The weakness of the list of refuseniks, so far at least, is that only two pilots of attack helicopters signed the letter. Pilots of attack helicopters are those who carry out almost all the assassinations.

In a response to Channel 10, the Commander of the Air Force said, "This is not an earthquake in the Air Force, and it's important to keep this in proportion. This is the first I hear of a letter like this. We have the most humane and moral army there is. This is political refusal. I don't understand how one can refuse in advance to carry out an order that was  not yet given. Political refusal is the mother of all dangers  to this  nation. Refusal should not be a part of our language."

The Full Letter

"We, Air Force pilots who were raised on the values of Zionism, sacrifice, and contributing to the state of Israel, have always served on the front lines, willing to carry out any mission, whether small or large, to defend and strengthen the state of Israel.

"We, veteran and active pilots alike, who served and still serve the state of Israel for long weeks every year, are opposed to carrying out attack orders that are illegal and immoral of the type the state of Israel has been conducting in the territories.

"We, who were raised to love the state of Israel and contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in Air Force attacks  on civilian population centers. We, for whom the Israel Defense  Forces and the Air Force are an inalienable part of ourselves, refuse to continue to harm innocent civilians.

"These actions are illegal and immoral, and are a direct  result of the ongoing occupation which is corrupting all of Israeli  society. Perpetuation of the occupation is fatally harming the  security of the state of Israel and its moral strength.

"We who serve as active pilots - fighters, leaders, and instructors of the next generation of pilots -- hereby declare that we shall continue to serve in the Israel Defense Forces and the Air Force for  every mission in defense of the state of Israel."

Signed: Brigadier General Yiftah Spector, Colonel Yigal Shohat, Colonel Ran, Lieutenant Colonel Yoel Piterberg, Lieutenant  Colonel David Yisraeli, Lieutenant Colonel Adam Netzer, Lieutenant Colonel  Avner Ra'anan, Lieutenant Colonel Gideon Shaham, Major Haggai  Tamir, Major Amir Massad,  Major Gideon Dror, Major David Marcus, Major Professor  Motti Peri, Major  Yotam, Major Zeev Reshef, Major Reuven, Captain Assaf, Captain Tomer,  Captain Ron, Captain Yonatan, Captain Allon, Captain  Amn.

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Israel grounds pilots who refused mission
Thursday, September 25, Christian Science Monitor

Israel on Thursday temporarily grounded reserve air force pilots who - in an unprecedented protest - condemned airstrikes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as "immoral" and refused to fly such sorties. The declaration by 27 pilots, including nine on active duty, was widely criticized in Israel as subversive at a time of war, but it also revived a flagging debate on the ethics of Israel's three-year war on Palestinian militants.

The protest struck a nerve because many Israelis believe their military has higher moral standards than that of their neighbors, and that other countries would have been much more ruthless.

The military is also seen as an institution that binds the fractious nation; Israelis get jittery at signs of cracks in the ranks. The air force in particular is considered key to Israel's survival, and pilots are held in the highest regard. Critics also say such talk gives ammunition to Israel's enemies.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the rebel pilots would be dealt with swiftly.

The group of 27 is informally led by Brig. Gen. Yiftah Spector, a highly decorated retired pilot who, according to Israeli media, took part in the bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

   refusing to kill