ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Pilots Refuse Orders

Pilots Refuse Orders

24 September 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Immorality is a relative term.  Twenty-seven pilots in the Israeli air force announced their refusal to fly bombing missions in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza.  They claim bombing in civilian areas is illegal and immoral.  The aim of such missions is “targeted removals” of terrorists.  Unfortunately innocent civilians are often in the way and become casualties as well.

The terrorists are planning to bomb buses, shopping centers and cafes.  Their objective is to massacre and mutilate Israelis.  So why are the pilots announcing their refusal to carry out orders?  Supposedly they want to defend the innocent Palestinians, however they forgot their job is to defend Israelis, the same civilian population who sent them to ensure their safety.  Innocent Palestinians get killed and injured but they are not the targets of the Israeli military whereby the objective of the terrorists is to kill civilians.

For years already, Palestinian terrorists keep civilians around, including their wives and children, knowing full well Israel will do its best not to cause them harm.  They are a human shield.  Just recently the Hamas leadership was not wiped out because Israel dropped a smaller explosive (250 kilos) on the house where they met in Gaza, instead of a one-ton bomb.  The air force explained it wanted to avoid civilian casualties.  Although Hamas is still being held at bay Israeli civilians will pay a heavy price for lack of a larger device. 

Any civilians intentionally keeping close to the terrorists to act as a human shield and body guards are accomplices to the actions of those same Hamas, Jihad, Al-Aksa, etc, terrorists and are deserving of the same fate.  Children kept in close quarters are hostages held by those same terrorists and their bodyguards.  Civilians unwittingly caught in the crossfire are unfortunate victims of a directed policy of terror decided upon by PA Chairman Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority who holds them hostage as a society.  By encouraging and not curbing terrorism Arafat and the PA are as responsible for Palestinian civilian deaths just like Hamas leader Ahmed Yasin.

The pilots, by refusing to serve, are encouraging the terrorists to massacre innocent Israelis and are giving succor to terrorism and a value system rooted in violence.  They abdicate responsibility for the tough decisions needed to be made when facing such a brutal and ruthless enemy.  Their actions undercut the right of self-defense and the military chain of command in a democracy.  They also endanger the Jewish People by allowing a free hand in terrorist planning and the outset of its execution.

Israel Air Force Commander Dan Halutz is relieving them of their posts (only 9 are on active reserve, the others are retired) as he views their protest as a political move, which it is.  There are thousands of pilots in Israel, so the numbers add up to less than 1%.  But Israel is a democracy with a people’s army so such opinions are also held by a tiny fraction of the armed services. 

And although such opinions are the truly “immoral” ones, maybe the fact of their outward and free expression is what lends Israel the fortitude to continue its struggle.