Israeli military intelligence unit 8200 plans to enter Israeli high school curriculums, as announced by the Israeli outlet ‘Calcalist’.
“The elite unit that is losing manpower which goes to industry and high-tech, wants to attract and train students in order to incorporate them in the intelligence and security bodies. The students would be able to obtain credit points during the project, valid towards a university degree”, the article (Hebrew) by Yoav Stoler tells us.
Unit 8200 is not just any unit. It spies within Israel, outside it, and on occupied territories. In September 2014, 43 reserve soldiers of the unit signed a protest letter, saying they “refused to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to be a tool for the deepening of the military regime in the occupied territories”.
“During our military service we learned that intelligence is an inseparable part of military rule in the Territories. The Palestinian population, living under a military regime, is completely exposed to spying and surveillance of Israeli intelligence. As opposed to Israeli citizens and citizens of other nations, there is no supervision of methods of gathering, tracking or using intelligence information related to the Palestinians, whether they are involved in violence or not. Information gathered damages the innocent and is used for political persecution and creating divisions within Palestinian society through recruitment of collaborators and turning of Palestinian society against itself”, they wrote in their letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Head of Military intelligence and Commander of Unit 8200.
Speaking with Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, the refuseniks went into more detail :
“A significant part of what the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] does is not the “title” [ie defence]. The “title” of what the IDF does in the occupied territories is ruling another people. One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them, but you also need to oppress the population. You need to weaken the politics, you need to strengthen and deepen your control of Palestinian society so that the [Israeli] state can remain [there] in the long term … We realised that that’s the job of the intelligence.”
There were no limits on who was ‘fair game:
“The only limitation is the limitation of resources. There’s no procedural questions regarding who can and cannot be surveilled. Everybody is fair game.”
They spoke about the unit’s part in murderous airstrikes:
“It’s no secret that Israeli intelligence is producing the target database that is used in the air strikes …There was a big media outcry after [Hamas military leader] Salah Shehade was assassinated [in 2002] and 14 members of his family were killed. There was a big story around that and the commander of the air force then – Dan Halutz – said to the pilots: “You did well.” You’re not responsible. Your job is to deliver the ammunition to the target in the most professional and accurate way you can, and you did that and your hands are clean.”
They told how they were instrumental in Israeli ‘revenge operations’, where they knew the target to be attacked had nothing to do with the recent Palestinian attack. And they had to secure – not that the building was empty – but that it was not empty. “Someone had to be there in order to die”:
“In 2003 [during the second intifada] there was this general routine for the IDF to bomb buildings at night as a response to terrorist attacks or to pass a message or … whatever you like. After an especially bad terrorist attack in south Tel Aviv by the old bus station there was a decision that the response had to be more harsh this time. The action that was decided upon was to destroy from the air a building belonging to Fatah, which wasn’t the organisation that was responsible for the terrorist attack. And the building wasn’t related in any way to military activity. It was some kind of welfare centre where they were giving out pay cheques. Unlike previous times, an essential part [of the operation] was that building wouldn’t be empty and there would be people there, no matter who. Someone had to be there in order to die. The role of our unit was to give the green light for this attack. To say when the building isn’t empty. [My emphasis].
So now this unit, branded as a technological high-tech opportunity, is simply getting its recruits straight from high schools. Calcalist tells us that
“behind the initiative stands the goal whereby the program graduates would supply the human growth which the security bodies including IDF, Shin Bet and Mossad, are thirsting after – with an emphasis on unit 8200, the elite unit of the intelligence corps”.
A commander in the unit is quoted speaking about the projections regarding the courses:
“6 weekly hours, wide exposure to high-tech, summer camps, seminars and more”.
Meanwhile, those who expose Israel’s sinister practices under its military occupation of Palestinians, are being banned and sought outlawed by the state – like Breaking the Silence, the soldier whistleblower organisation, who were banned from appearing in high-schools by Education Minister Naftali Bennett . Prime Minister Netanyahu has pushed for outlawing the organization as a whole.
This is the stark duality: The apparatus which is instrumental in oppressing and massacring Palestinians is being inserted into high school curriculums, whilst those who seek to tell about the dark side of it all, are banned from those same high schools. For most Israelis, this is not even seen as ‘political’. It’s all about ‘security’, ‘high-tech’ and ‘the future’. The same security and future which Palestinians are robbed of. But they won’t teach that in those courses, and as smart as those graduates are, it is doubtful that many of them will get the real, and dire, moral meaning of all this.
H/t Ofer Neiman