Occupation Watch
Israeli pilots protest
November/December 2003

Israel in September 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 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.

-Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 23.

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