A letter signed by 43 members of Unit 8200, both past and present, has sparked a furor across Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning the members’ “baseless slander” against Unit 8200, and the military threatening “disciplinary action” against the signatories.
Unit 8200 is Israel’s military surveillance unit. It is broadly comparable to the NSA. The Friday letter complained the unit was engaged in actions against Palestinians in the occupied territories and “only serves to prolong the conflict.”
Complaints about anything the Israeli military does, including by the members of the Israeli military who were ordered to do it, spark furious reactions in Israel, with a former commander insisting they should keep their complaints “private.”
The signatories defended their position, saying Unit 8200’s activities go “well beyond self defense” and are used primary as a tool of occupation against the Palestinians.
While the letter provides the first public dialogue about Israel’s signals intelligence operations against Palestinians, it seems unlikely to fuel change, as Israeli officials seem determined to both deny that problems exist and to angrily crack down on such an unseemly show of dissent.