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As a fighting officer of the Israel Defense Forces, I served all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I am not naive. Sometimes you must kill to survive. In the name of the State of Israel, I chased after children who threw stones at me. I patrolled the alleys of refugee camps. I banged on tin doors in the wee hours of the night. I looked for inciting texts between mattresses and blankets. I heard babies cry. I pulled people out of bed to erase slogans off the walls. I enforced curfews. I fought against Palestinian flags hanging on electricity poles. I stopped vehicles. I confiscated ID cards. I transferred handcuffed detainees in the back of my jeep. I shot rioters. I stopped hundreds of cars at checkpoints. I placed an observation post on the roof of a cake shop on Gaza’s main street. The Occupation’s routine. Day after day. Hour after hour. Thirty five years.

I believed it was a ‘no choice’ war. After all, we’ve turned every stone on our quest for peace.

We have built over 100 settlements. We have settled 200,000 people in them. We have lost warriors, children, mothers. All for the state’s security. For peace. To stop the next suicide bomber. For 35 years a black flag was proudly hanging over our heads, but we have refused to see it.

No more.

 

Captain (res.) Itai Haviv
Signatory of the ‘courage to refuse’ letter 2002

[Translation note: ‘Black Flag’ is an allusion to a famous Israeli court ruling following the 1956 Kafr Qasm massacre. In this ruling, the judges said that any soldier has the right and obligation to refuse clearly illegal commands, above which ‘hangs a black flag’. In the 45 years that passed since then, not even a single soldier was protected by a military court for refusing to obey a command because it was a ‘black flag’ command].