An IDF officer was arrested on Monday for refusing to take part in Operation Cast Lead.
Noam Livneh, a lieutenant in an Engineering Corps' reserves unit, told Ynet prior to his arrest that he had also refused to serve in the West Bank city of Nablus some eight years ago for "ethical reasons".
"I received an emergency draft order two weeks ago, and when I reported for duty I told the company commander that I refuse (to serve in Gaza) for ethical reasons," Livneh recounted.
"I left at the end of the day and told my commanders to call if they needed me. Later I received a phone call saying I have been declared AWOL. I told them I was standing behind my statement."
Asked to lay out the reasons for his refusal to participate in the fighting, Livneh said "has Israel explored all the other possibilities before resorting to violence? The answer is no. Israel is bombing one of the most densely populated areas in the world and is killing women and children while preventing their evacuation.
"I hear reports of infants dying in the arms of their dead mothers; sick people who are not receiving treatment; people living without the most basic supplies. This is a humanitarian disaster," he said.
According to Livneh, the IDF generally elects not to deal with insubordinate soldiers in order to strengthen its claim that the phenomenon is negligible. The group "Courage to Refuse" was also surprised by Livneh's arrest, saying that such measures are rare.
'Betraying all of my beliefs'
Another soldier who refused to fight in Gaza, Staff-Sergeant (Res.) Yitzhak Ben-Muha, said he was transferred to another company. "I waited at the base for two days until they told us that our job was to pitch tents for the fighting forces. I refused and was sent home the following day," he said.
Ben-Muha said he does not consider himself a pacifist and understands the importance of a strong army. "However," he said, "this army should defend – not attack and conquer." According to him, the army's policy in the past few years has been not to put insubordinate soldiers on trial so as not to stir controversy.
Jerusalem resident Maya Yehieli, 19, was set to be recruited last week but refused for "moral reasons" following the launching of the military offensive in Gaza.
She was sentenced to 14 days in a military prison, but was eventually released to her home because the prison was overcrowded.
"Bombing Gaza won't bring security to Israel's southern region," she said, "I would be betraying all of my beliefs by joining a conquering army," she said.
David Zonenschein of "Courage to Refuse" said that as opposed to Operation Defensive Shield (in the West Bank), when some 100 insubordinate soldiers were put on trial, "currently most of these cases end with a talk with the company commander".
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response that "all cases of insubordination and defection during times of war are dealt with harshly. Noam Livneh is under arrest, and, following an investigation, the Military Police's recommendations will be turned over to the Military Advocate General's office for review."
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report