JERUSALEM - An Israeli intelligence
officer who feared a planned air strike would kill innocent
Palestinians foiled the attack by holding back information
critical to the mission, the Maariv newspaper said on Monday.
The officer's act of disobedience this month was the latest
in a series of actions taken by Israelis opposed to the tough
tactics Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has employed against a
Palestinian uprising for statehood.
Maariv said the officer, a lieutenant in an elite
intelligence unit, delayed passing on information for an air
raid planned against a Palestinian city after 22 people were
killed on January 6 in a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
The officer, who was not identified, told a military
tribunal he acted out of conscience, saying innocent people
would have been killed and calling his orders illegal under
international law, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper did not specify the information he withheld.
The court tribunal rejected his argument and transferred him
to a less prestigious intelligence unit, Maariv said.
Asked about the report, the army spokesman's office
confirmed an intelligence officer was removed from his post
after disobeying a direct order and impairing a military
operation, but the spokesman declined to give details.
The army has refused to sanction conscientious objection,
saying Israel's security would be harmed if soldiers were
allowed to opt out of service while the country was locked in
violence with the Palestinians that shows no sign of abating.
NO "SELECTIVE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION"
In December, the Supreme Court said it could not back the
idea of "selective conscientious objection" by eight reserve
soldiers who had refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Last week, an Israeli state prosecutor mentioned her fears
about her son's pending military service with Sharon as prime
minister as having motivated her to leak information of a
criminal probe of the Israeli leader over election funding.
Israelis vote in a general election on Tuesday, and Sharon's
right-wing Likud party holds a commanding lead in opinion polls.
Sociologist Oz Almog of Haifa University said some left-wing
Israelis, dismayed by the weakness of Israel's peace camp, were
striking out on their own against the establishment.
"This kind of conscientious objection is important and it is
good that we have it," Almog said of the reservists who refused
to serve on occupied land.
"Even though it is on the edge, it makes you think, and we
need it because the edges define the middle," he told Reuters.
But he said he believed such behaviour was "the exception to
the rule" and the "deciding majority of the people" did not
accept such dissidence.
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