Growing Number of Israeli Soldiers Refuse to Serve in Occupied Territory
Interview with Yaniz Iczkovits, Israeli reservist and cofounder of "Courage to Refuse," conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Last week, President George Bush met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to promote the latest international effort to achieve peace in the Middle East, known as the "road map." But not long after President Bush left the region, an unlikely coalition of Palestinian groups launched an attack that killed four Israeli soldiers. The assault on an Israeli border outpost was carried out by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. A June 10th Israeli rocket attack on a leader of Hamas, which killed 2 civilians, but not the intended target, was roundly criticized even in Washington. Thus far, Palestinian and Israeli militants have both rejected the road map for peace as retaliatory strikes escalate out of control.
While violence on the ground in Israel and Palestine threatened progress on the peace plan, the co-founder of a group called Courage to Refuse, spoke in New Haven, Connecticut. Yaniv Iczkovits is a 28-year-old paratrooper and reservist in the Israeli Defense Force. In January, 2002, he and a friend organized 51 other reserve combat soldiers and officers to sign their names to an anti-occupation statement published in the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz. While proclaiming their loyalty to the state of Israel, they announced, "We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people." The number of so-called "refuseniks" has grown to 542. Many of them, including Iczkovits, have served 30-day prison sentences for their refusal to patrol the West Bank and Gaza. Iczkovits supports a two-state solution, the removal of Israeli settlements outside of Israel, and the division of Jerusalem into east and west sectors.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Iczkovits about his hopes for a comprehensive peace settlement . He also recounts his first military service in the West Bank, at the age of 18, which had a profound impact on his moral and political views of the occupation.
For more information, call the Courage to Refuse Solidarity Network at (202) 232-1100 or visit the group's website at www.seruv.org.il
"Middle East Roadmap for Peace May Lead to a Dead End," Between The Lines interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine for the Week Ending 6/6/03
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