Countries are bodies with a license to kill. This is one of the first things I learned when I was drafted to the army. I was trained, equipped and sent with my friends to kill and to try to stay alive. That was the better part of my military training. At the time I believed that the country of Israel knows what it’s doing, and when my country sends me to kill, it is after thoughtful consideration and in light of the danger from the people on the other side. Out of that belief I served for years in regular service and reserves, and I was certain that my country and it’s heads of security possessed the required discretion to perform the task of maintaining Israel’s security without levity, abuse, or disregard for suffering.
But what happens when the state “loses it”, when it starts allowing itself to kill, hurt or abuse its citizens and those under its authority? What happens when its power is operated without discretion and with intolerable abuse of a man, with a name and a face. A man that simply asks to know: What is my crime? Why was I arrested? Especially when his only crime is an unatonable one: being a Palestinian. His name is Maher el Akhras, he is a father and a husband, and he is a hunger striker.
Maher el Akhras, like many others, is spending his time in an Israeli prison. He is kept there under the cover of the illegitimate tool of administrative detention. A formal status that was legalized in Israel due to “special security needs”. All that Maher and his companions are asking, is to know the crime that he is accused of. A defendant has a right to know his accused crime, at least a defendant with a country or a judicial entity to protect him. This is not the case for the many Palestinians in administrative detention. Nor is it the case for Maher, who has gone on a hunger strike, until he is told what he is accused of and why was he arrested but not tried. This simple request is denied, again and again by the State of Israel. The State of Israel prefers to turn me and all its citizens into murderers. Murderers who are looking indifferently at the dying breaths of a man requesting justice.
With its wrongful conduct, Israel is turning its citizens into murderers. Every one of us that looks away from this, everyone that does not resist and protest this abuse of Maher el Akhras is cooperating with an abusive and unjust regime. Supreme court judges, state security workers, reserve soldiers and tax paying citizens, are all collaborators of a cruel regime. Our country is turning us into murderers not to protect its citizens, but to legitimize anti-democratic and in-humane actions.
Through his hunger strike, Maher el Akhras judges us. He makes us face a mirror in which we see the occupation and oppressive mechanisms applied to Palestinians. When a country decides to murder by ignorance, brutality, or by abuse of power, it turns its citizens into murderers. This is not the country that I have fought for, and this is not the country our mothers and fathers dreamed of when they founded it. I hereby call on all security operators, all combat soldiers – refuse to cooperate with this injustice. I call on all Israeli citizens – refuse cooperation with this punitive system. Because when our country drives over a cliff it will not stop at a red light and the system will run over us all. A country that causes the death of one person will not hesitate to cause the death of many. Refuse to be murderers.
Lieutenant Colonel (res) Tuly Flint,
Israeli general coordinator
Combatants for Peace.