Channel NewsAsia

Not all Israelis keen on Gaza operation

As the war in Gaza intensifies, the Israeli army has called up thousands more of its reserve soldiers. But not all of them are so keen to go to war.

TEL AVIV: For some Israeli soldiers, the war is not so much on the battleground as it is in their head.

Hanna Schimdt, a former Israeli soldier, said: "I was a new immigrant to Israel, and I did it (service in the army). Because I came to Israel and you do it in order to fit in. During my service I literally felt I was going crazy."

Hanna Schmidt is not unique in a country where military service is compulsory - a small but vocal group of former Israeli soldiers are standing up and saying 'no more'. Several dozen recently wrote an open letter to an American newspaper detailing their objections to serving in Gaza.

Yehuda Shaul, another former Israeli soldier, said: "There are a lot of soldiers who come back and say to themselves: 'what the hell are we doing here? Why are we using so much force? Why are we treating them this way?'"

Yehuda Shaul co-founded 'Breaking the Silence', an Israeli human rights organisation that collects testimonies from former soldiers detailing their military service in the Palestinian territories.

But it is not an easy task - his work puts him on the fringes of Israeli society where his opposition to the army sees him labelled as a traitor.

Tamar Zandberg, an Israeli member of the Knesset, said: "People in Israel do care.. maybe sometimes it's easy not to know what's going on there, what we send our boys and girls to do in our name on our behalf."

More and more Israelis are taking to the streets to declare that they do not support what their government is doing in Gaza.

Recent polls show that Israelis overwhelmingly support the war in Gaza. However, these dissident soldiers are not completely alone. There is opposition - like a demonstration where left-wing israelis are protesting against their army's actions in Gaza.

But their voice is small, and as the war in Gaza continues with over 86,000 reserve troops already drafted, most Israeli soldiers will have to do their best to serve their country at this particularly difficult time.