Israeli pilots refuse to fire on Palestinians

26 September 2003
A group of 27 Israeli air force pilots on 25 September sent a letter to Israeli authorities declaring their refusal to take part in raids on the occupied 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 says. 'We, for whom the Israeli Defence Force and the air force are an integral part of our being, refuse to continue attacking innocent civilians... The continued occupation is critically harming the country's security,' it added (MEED 25:9:03).

Senior officials in the military and the government have condemned the letter. Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Major General Dan Halutz, issued an order to ground the 27 signatories - nine of who are still on active duty. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the letter reminded him that there had also been an attempt to overthrow the government during the 1982 Lebanon War. 'The Israeli Defence Force is not an organisation where you can do as you please,' he said. 'This matter will be dealt with appropriately by the defence establishment.'

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