Protesting Israeli pilots to be ousted

Sept. 26, 2003 at 7:52 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The Israeli Air Force is planning to dismiss nine pilots who signed a letter refusing to take part in further operations against Palestinians.

Haaretz newspaper reports that although 27 fighter pilots signed a leter protesting the operation in the Palestinian territories, only nine were still on active duty.

The signatories, who sent the letter to Air Force Commander Dan Halutz, described aerial activity in the territories as "illegal and immoral."

Halutz told Haaretz he planned to treat the signatories "in the same way as the (Israeli Defense Forces) has dealt with refuseniks until now. This method has proven itself." The nine pilots will be called to meetings with the heads of their bases in the coming days and if they do not retract their statement, they will be dismissed from active service.

The newpaper reports that the signatories to the letter wrote they would refuse to take part in aerial attacks on populated Palestinian areas in the territories.

"We, for whom the IDF and the air force are an integral part of our being, refuse to continue to hit innocent civilians," the letter read.

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