When 1st Sgt. A. received a second automated voice message from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) two weeks ago, he knew it was no longer possible to avoid the inevitable. The next day’s call was not automated: A soldier, speaking curtly, told him it was time to report for duty at an Israeli military base in the south of the country.
A., who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of courting further punishment by speaking to the media, told the caller he refuses to take part in the Israeli army's current operation in the Gaza Strip. He questioned the ethics of an operation designed to root out Hamas infrastructure used to launch rockets on Israeli cities, citing the growing number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
"All I know is that you have to show up to the base tomorrow," the caller told him. "Take it up with them."
Israelis like 1st Sgt. A. are a rarity. After more than three weeks of fighting that has cost the lives of more than 1,300 Palestinians — mostly civilians — and over 50 Israeli soldiers, the Israeli public remains overwhelmingly supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. That’s despite mounting Israeli military casualties; the negative images of the destruction wrought by Israel in Gaza that dominate international media; and tensions with its key ally, the United States, over efforts to broker a cease-fire.