Dozens of reserve soldiers from an elite Israeli intelligence unit have sent a letter to the country's military chief and prime minister saying they refuse to serve for moral reasons.

The letter from soldiers in Unit 8200 — Israel's equivalent of the eavesdropping, code-breaking National Security Agency -- was published in the Yediot Ahronot daily on Friday.

It alleges the unit's intelligence work prevents Palestinians from leading "normal lives" and prolongs the conflict.

One soldier told Chanel 10 TV he feels most of the work was motivated by "political reasons" -- to cement Israel's control over the West Bank -- and not security concerns.

The military said soldiers in the unit are held to a high ethical standard. It questioned the "seriousness of the claims" in the letter.