Testimonies from people who worked in the Israeli Intelligence Corps tell of a system where there were no boundaries
I enlisted in the Intelligence Corps with a clear understanding that regarding anything that involves the Palestinian arena, I will engage in self-defence. Throughout my service in my unit I did and encountered things that seemed irrelevant from a security standpoint, and I did not have a clear conscience participating in such activities. Contrary to my expectations, our database included not only security-related intelligence but also personal and political information. That is to say, on a personal level, there is no respect for Palestinian privacy.
From a political standpoint, information is collected that can serve to manipulate Israeli, Palestinian and international politics.
Although ours is not actual field work, it has serious impact on the lives of many people, and this is something that I think soldiers in the unit forget when everyone just does their part. Since we’re so focused on not missing any important developments, we always prefer to assume the worst. For example, if anyone is suspected, even very faintly, it is possible that the stain will never fade, and that person will suffer sanctions as a result.
Our daily service dulls everyone’s sensitivity and this is reflected, for example, in running jokes about very personal things that come up in our intelligence material. Or, for instance, in the expression “blood on the headset”, or X’s marked on our headsets after assassinations.
After my discharge from the Intelligence Corps, I had a moment of shock while watching the film The Lives of Others, about the secret police in East Germany.
On the one hand, I felt solidarity with the victims, with the oppressed people who were denied such basic rights as I take for granted to be mine. On the other hand, I realised that the job I had done during my military service was that of the oppressor.
My first reaction as a discharged soldier was that we do the same things, only much more efficiently.