Exclusive: 'Why I refused to serve my Israeli army division in Gaza'

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The Israeli offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, codenamed ‘Protective Edge’ in English and in which to date more than 750 Palestinians and 33 Israelis have lost their lives, deepened in horror on Thursday when at least 15 people were killed and 200 wounded in an attack upon a United Nations-run school used as a shelter from the fighting. While the gruesome toll has caused loud international outcry, less reported is the movement of desertion among Israeli military reservists who refuse what they believe is an unjust war. Mediapart's special correspondent in Israel, Pierre Puchot, has obtained a frank and exclusive interview with one of these so-called 'refuseniks', who this week fled his call-up to join an armoured division headed for Gaza.

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Israel’s campaign in Gaza began on July 8th with air strikes in an operation for which the objective was officially to stop Hamas-led rocket strikes launched from Gaza. But the casualty toll, mostly civilian, notably soared after the launch of the Israeli army’s ground offensive, on July 17th. While the gruesome toll of the Israeli campaign has prompted indignation around the world, manifested in numerous demonstrations, a less-reported opposition is that of Israeli military reservists who have refused orders to take part in the mission often as an act of moral or political opposition.