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161 Israel Reservists Refuse to Serve in Occupied Lands

December 31, 1987|United Press International

JERUSALEM — More than 150 Israeli reservists mutinied against the military today and said they will refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to protest the army's "brutal suppression" of Arab unrest in the occupied territories.

At least 22 Palestinians were killed by army gunfire and about 1,000 Arabs were jailed in two weeks of bloody anti-Israeli rioting that began Dec. 9 and swept through the lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

"We are declaring that we are not a blind weapon of anyone," said reserve Lt. Yeshai Menuchin, releasing a petition signed by 28 reserve officers and 133 reserve soldiers.

It said they would refuse to serve in the territories when called up for their annual reserve duty.

"We hope that every reserve soldier of the Israel Defense Forces will sign this petition and not take part in any repressive act," he said.

A spokesman for Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin had no immediate comment.

The petition was circulated by Yesh Gvul, an activist group that was created by reservists in 1982 who refused to serve in the Lebanon War. "Yesh Gvul" is Hebrew for "There Is a Limit."

"The uprising in the occupied territories and its brutal suppression by the Israel Defense Forces graphically illustrate the terrible price of occupation and the absence of a political solution," the petition said.

"As IDF reservists we declare that we can no longer bear the burden of shared responsibility for this moral and political deprivation," it said. "We hereby proclaim that we shall refuse to take part in suppressing the uprising and insurrection in the occupied territories."

Reservists who refuse their assignments can be jailed for insubordination, said Menuchin, 30, who spent 35 days in jail for refusing to serve in Lebanon following Israel's 1982 invasion.

Normally, he said, discontent reservists let their commanders know privately of their objections to serve and are reassigned to non-controversial posts to avoid the publicity that surrounds the jail sentences.

Almost all Jewish Israeli men and women are drafted into the military following high school and men are required to serve one month a year in the reserves after their service until age 54.

Reserve resistance to the Lebanon war led in part to the 1985 Israeli withdrawal, by turning public sentiment against the occupation of Lebanon, said writer Peretz Kidron, another member of Yesh Gvul.

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