A short announcement of the release of refusenik Omri Baranes two weeks ago. Thanks to all who signed petitions of support for her and Tair Kaminer.
In a country where people are born ‘with a gun in their hands’ and a spell in the IDF is the necessary prelude to being a good citizen there is no space for political conscientious objection. But the number of Israelis refusing to enforce the occupation is growing and getting organised with teenage girls setting the example.
A hallmark of Israel was that all its citizens willingly did a period of military service – an idealised citizen army. In fact many Israelis do not want to police Palestinians – the main job of the IDF. Conscientious objector (CO) Tair Kaminer gained publicity because she had the extra courage to denounce the role of the IDF in Palestine.
Tair Kaminer was never going to go quietly. She went with a group of friends to the IDF induction centre for conscripts to declare her refusal to do military service. She was sent to prison. Mesarvot organised daily protests while she served her term. She has issued an eloquent statement about her decision.
‘We learned that gathering information is part of the system of military control over Palestinians, that assassinations kill more than the target person, that we get private information for the purposes of blackmail’. Such intelligence is gained by elite unit 8200. Its use has so disturbed many soldiers that 43 have written a public letter saying they will not do reserve duty – and that many more agree with them in private.
A letter signed by 56 Israeli reservists stating why they refuse to serve their country in its current military operation is published this week in the Washington Post. Their fundamental objection, the two initiators tell Democracy Now, is the power the hierarchical IDF exercises over Palestinians and Israelis. We learn on the way that most Americans have never heard of the siege of Gaza but think Israel is under siege by Hamas.
“The Army serves the people in power and not the civilians, who are only a tool” says one of 60 Israeli teenagers who have signed a letter to PM Netanyahu stating their refusal to serve in the IDF. (Refusal of military conscription is punishable by imprisonment). Their letter states that in the oPt “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis”. It is the biggest mass refusal for 6 years.
Adam Keller sketches the history of refusing military service, from the 1982 Lebanon war to today. During that 30 years many young conscripts have refused to use military power to enforce the Occupation. Now Naftali Bennett, leader of a revamped far-right party, has said he will refuse – to evict settlers. He may galvanise a pro-settler cohort inside the army and among settlers.
The integration of American and Israeli military and technological systems, the enforcement of the status quo in Israel, the rules and walls separating Jews and Arabs — these are not news. We post this take on these features of the US/Israel alliance because it comes from Netanyahu’s refusenik nephew who went to prison for his beliefs before going to study in the USA. He is now at Cambridge University, UK.
Breaking the Silence has released a new publication, “Occupation of the Territories – Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000-2010”, as part of the organization’s wider goal of increasing access to information on the daily reality in the Occupied Territories. The 431-page volume is made up of testimonies from 101 male and female soldiers who served in the Territories over the past decade. Joseph Dana of +972 provides a brief commentary on the publication and its significance.
Refusenik and activist Matan Cohen, who almost lost an eye after being shot in the face by a tear gas canister had his case dismissed by an Israeli judge – who further imposed a £13,000 fine for bringing a “frivolous” lawsuit. Matan needs to raise a £5,000 deposit in order to lodge an appeal against the ruling.
Yehuda Shaul, 27, one of the founders of Breaking the Silence, which collects and publishes eyewitness accounts of soldiers from the territories, is celebrating a minor victory over the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF spokesman and the wall of silence that Shaul says surrounds the events of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza […]
CO Diane Kogan, 18, of the Tel-Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, was sentenced on13 June to 25 days in a military gaol for her refusal to enlist. This is in fact the second time Diane is being sent to prison and the sixth time she is being sentenced for her conscientious objection. Please send her messages of support…
One of this year’s Shministim (courageous high school leavers who refuse to be drafted into the Israeli Army) will be speaking in London this weekend. Or Ben David has been jailed for her refusal to serve three times, not including a pre sentence detention of 7 days. She will talk about the reasons for their […]
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