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Middle East
Israeli pilots refuse to fly "assassination" missions
A group of Israeli airforce pilots declared yesterday that they would refuse to fly missions which could endanger civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The declaration was aimed at Israel’s policy of killing terrorists assassinating activists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.

The 27 pilots sent a letter to the commander of Israel’s airforce refusing to carry out duties, which include track and kill operations, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One of the pilots told Israeli television that the letter said: "We, veteran pilots and active pilots alike...are opposed to carrying out illegal and immoral attacks, of the type carried out by Israel in the territories. "We, who have been educated to love the state of Israel refuse to take part in airforce attacks in civilian population centres. We refuse to continue harming innocent civilians."
Um, fellas, there’s channels to do this sort of thing.
It was unclear how many of the pilots were still active in the airforce, but reserve pilots are regularly called upon for missions. A spokesman for the Israeli army said they never discussed the numbers of military personnel in any sector but said that the 27 pilots were "a drop in the ocean".

Brigadier General Ido Nehushtn of the Israeli airforce said the pilots were a "marginal, small group" of retired and reserve pilots. Israel’s chief of army staff, Moshe Ya’alon, said the pilots could be punished for their "illegitimate" and "forbidden" statement.
They’re going to be a whole lot more marginal in the very near future.
Since August 19, Israel’s airforce has killed 12 Hamas members and four bystanders. Over the past two years Israel’s "targeted assassinations" have killed dozens of bystanders by using bombs wieghing up to one tonne in densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip. Last month an attempt to kill Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, failed because the Israelis used a 113kg (250Ib) bomb rather than a one-tonne bomb on the building where he was expected to attend a meeting.

Israeli intelligence believed that Sheikh Yassin was meeting associates on the third floor of the building, which the bomb destroyed, but as the meeting took place on the first floor he was uninjured.
Interesting that a 250 lb bomb wouldn’t guarentee complete destruction of the house. I would have thought that to be plenty. Comments?
The week before an attempt on Mahmoud Zahar, another Hamas leader, failed because he was sitting in his garden when a bomb hit his house in Gaza City.
I hope this attitude in the IDF isn’t widespread.
Posted by:Steve White

#5  Cyber Sarge: "I have never met an Israeli pilot, are they political?"

Sarge, all Israelis are political, all the time. Active duty military are not allowed to make public political statements. So the public letter is a violation of orders from that point of view. The refusal to fly these mission is another issue.

Most Israeli military units have people from all the political parties. One of the far left parties is encouraging solders to refuse service in the territories, and tries to help them with the legal problems that result from refusing orders.

I served in the reserves in the Gaza strip. I was in an tank unit. In Gaza we did some foot patrols and a lot of jeep patrols and road blocks. We always had one or two guys with a problem doing this duty. It was handled in the company. They would be given jobs like guarding our base, or kitchen duty. That worked out, but would obviously be a problem if it got to be too many guys.

There have always been some refusals to server throughout the fight against the Intifada. Some have come from officers in highly regarded units, like reserve paratroop units.
Posted by: MattJ   2003-9-26 11:42:04 AM  

#4  It's sometimes hard to see their work ‘up close’ and I can sympathize if they get squeamish after viewing the devastation. I have seen some of our pilots get sick after they see the affects of a bomb (it ain’t pretty). This is especially true if there is ‘collateral’ damage. We are especially careful (to a fault) about targeting populated areas, but I have never seen an enemy that stands out in the open (ok shoot at me). The Serbs used to ‘commandeer’ Kosovar houses and park tank inside them, no telling what happened to the family that once occupied it. The Iraqis, Syrian, Hamas, and Paleos have all hidden weapons and personnel within restricted areas (mosques, hospitals, and school). It's RARE that we would target in that situation but the Isralis might have differnt ROEs. However I feel that maybe these pilots have a political agenda? They could simply refuse to fly and not sign a letter to that affect (same results). Not sure because I have never met an Israeli pilot, are they political?
Posted by: Cyber Sarge (VRWC CA Chapter)   2003-9-25 1:26:15 PM  

#3  JPost - IAF officials Thursday suspended at least nine active pilots who signed a letter refusing to carry out targeted assassinations and other operations in the Palestinian territories.

The other signatories are reservists, and their fate has yet to be determined.

Posted by: Frank G   2003-9-25 10:03:45 AM  

#2  Imagine a group of 27 splodey dopes sending a similar letter to Arafat & Yassin:
"We refuse to take part in attacks in civilian population centers. We are opposed to carrying out illegal & immoral attacks."

Nahh, that'll never happen.
Posted by: Rafael   2003-9-25 5:02:08 AM  

#1  Isreal really should put a reward out on some of these guys. I bet at least one Paleo will turn a Hamas leader in for several million dollars.
Posted by: Charles   2003-9-25 2:51:14 AM