Israeli refuseniks will be treated as criminals, says defence minister

Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the refuseniks at the International cyber-security conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

Moshe Ya’alon joins political and military leadership in attack on reservists who refuse to serve in Palestinian territories

Forty-three Israeli military intelligence reservists who signed a letter refusing to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories have been denounced as “criminal” by defence minister Moshe Ya’alon, as the country’s political and military leadership turned its fire on the refuseniks.

The ferocity of the response was not unexpected by those involved. One signatory told the Guardian before publication that he feared being portrayed as an enemy of the state after the letter was made public.

Among those who have criticised the reservists’ actions are Israel’s prime minister, the president, opposition leaders and a former intelligence head. In addition, the Israeli military revealed that 200 other members of the unit had signed a counter-letter defending its work.

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