I return my rank to you

January 4, 2004

To the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon:

On Israel’s 51st Independence Day, on Ammunition Hill, I received from you the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel.

I was discharged from active reserve duty in the IDF after 31 years of service, during which I participated as an Artilleryman in the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon War, and the First Intifada.

I hereby return my rank to you.

A state whose army breaks up civilian demonstrations with live fire is not a democratic state. An army that educates its soldiers that it is possible to contemplate such a crime has lost [sight of its] limits.

I witnessed the deterioration stage after stage: overlooking abuse of detainees, against army orders. Overlooking shooting of unarmed Palestinian civilians by soldiers, against orders. Overlooking violations of the law by settlers, including armed raids on Palestinian villages. Repression of a civilian population with checkpoints, blockages, closures and curfew, following orders. The military ignoring degradations, mistreatment, and abuse of Palestinians at checkpoints, searches, and detentions. Opening fire on children who throw rocks, on workers, and on unarmed people, apparently following orders. Military operations, including pre-emptive liquidations, knowing in advance that innocent people would also be harmed. Shooting at Israeli citizens to break up demonstrations in Israel, by the police, supposedly in life threatening [situations].

Step by step, the value of life diminishes. Step by step, the soldiers, the commanders, and the entire nation are corrupted. The values with which we were raised – the ‘purity of the arms,’ the value of life, respect for man who was created in God’s image – have become a ridiculous joke.

Now, the next level has been reached: soldiers shooting at Israeli citizens in a demonstration, following the [established] rules on when to open fire. Who gave these instructions? Who gave these patently illegal orders? What is the next step? Breaking up demonstrations in Rabin Square with machine guns? Shooting at demonstrators is an educational and moral failure. It points to the loss of ability to distinguish between good and evil, between defense and murder. It is a failure of the army commanders – the company commander, troop commander, brigade commander, the general, but first and foremost it is your failure.

If I had had confidence in you, I would have said to you ‘clean up the stables or accept the responsibility. Resign.’ But the confidence in you is lost. You failed. You and your predecessors corrupted the military. I do not wish to take part in such army. You awarded me my rank; to you I return it.

Eitan Ronel (Lieutenant Colonel, formerly)

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