Could this be the start to peace in the Middle East?

Eight Israeli reserve soldiers who refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza have asked Israel's Supreme Court to declare the occupation of the Palestinian territories illegal.
The soldiers, who rank from staff-sergeant to major, are part of Courage to Refuse, a movement of reservists who have refused to serve in the occupied territories.

The group claims to have more than 400 members.

Lieutenant David Zonsheine

"The Israeli Defence Forces' activities, notwithstanding the important goal of fighting terror, have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians," the soldiers' petition to the court reads. "For this reason, the occupation is illegal."

It was not known if the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case, but the group says it is the first such legal challenge to the 35-year Israeli occupation.

Military service is compulsory in Israel.

Men are required to serve in the reserves for more than a month each year until well into middle age unless they have a special exemption.

But the "refuseniks" say they should not be compelled to take part in an occupation they believe is illegal.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and controlled directly until the Palestinian Authority was created in the mid-90s.

More than 100 refuseniks have come forward in recent months

But during a recent offensive that Israel says was aimed at stopping suicide attacks, the army reoccupied much of the West Bank, enforcing curfews and blockades.

The soldiers argue that Israel has an obligation under international law to provide public services to Palestinians in any territory it re-occupies, and that it is not doing this.

More than 100 refuseniks have come forward in recent months and some have faced prison for standing up for their beliefs.

Lieutenant David Zonsheine said he was sentenced to 35 days in military prison after refusing reserve duty two months ago.

He said that while serving in the Gaza Strip last year he was forced to hold up Palestinian traffic - including ambulances - at a checkpoint because of a suicide attack warning.

"I don't know how many people died because of the 200 ambulances I delayed there," he told the Associated Press.

"This made me realise there is no way to have an enlightened occupation."
The Israeli army has said that its soldiers were acting correctly when they killed 12 Palestinians - including several children - in three separate incidents over the past two weeks.
After an investigation into the incidents, carried out by the army itself, military officials concluded that it had been appropriate to issue the order to open fire on two of the occasions.

In the third incident, the authorities said that two children and two teenagers had been killed "by mistake" when a missile attack launched by the Israeli army missed its target.

The defence minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, "complimented the army on the thorough inquiries," statement read.

'Suspicious' mother

The three incidents the Israeli army absolved itself of included the deaths of a mother and her two sons in the Gaza Strip on 28 August.

Main Gaza roads have been closed in an Israeli security operation

They were killed with flechettes - needle-like ammunition which sprays into a wide area.

They had, according to the army, been behaving suspiciously.

Three days later, two children and two teenagers were killed by the missile in the West Bank village of Tubas, near Nablus.

A day later, four Palestinians were killed in an army ambush close to a Jewish settlement near the southern West Bank town of Hebron.

The Israeli army says they were preparing for an attack.

Palestinians say they were walking home from work.

Curfews imposed

Israel has meanwhile imposed curfews on most West Bank towns and frozen Palestinian travel, saying it wants to keep out militants for the Jewish New Year holiday.

The restrictions have confined more than 630,000 Palestinians to their homes.

Soldiers also closed off main roads in Gaza to stop the transfer of weapons, officials said.

The road blocks followed an Israeli air raid on Thursday night in the Gaza Strip in which several missiles were fired at a metal workshop.

Military officials said they suspected the factory near the Palestinian police station at Khan Younis was making weapons for militants.

Israel has attacked Palestinian factories before, saying they are used for making explosives, rockets and mortars for use in attacks against Israelis.

But the workshop's owner, Abu Khalil, said that only parts for electric generators were made.

Similar Threads

This Is Propaganda: The Middle East "Peace Process"
by dumpthemonarchy | Jan 13th, 2010
Middle-East Mission to Peace Talks
by northstar | Dec 27th, 2006
Peace Breaks Out in the Middle East
by earth_as_one | Dec 3rd, 2006
no new posts