For decades hundreds of Israeli youth have declared at different times and for different reasons that they will refuse to serve in the Israeli military as they see its actions as immoral.
Many times, these conscientious objectors (COs) are imprisoned for refusing to serve in the army, as the military service is mandatory in Israel for all youth at the age of 18 for a period of 3 years for men and 2 years for women (There are parts of Israeli society that are automatically exempted from military service such as the Palestinian citizens of Israel and most Jewish-religious women).
In the coming month, two 18 year-old youth (one male and one female) will refuse to serve in the army, declaring that they can not take part in the violent oppression of the Palestinian people.
These brave youth each wrote a declaration explaining why they refuse to be drafted into the Israeli army, and would rather sit in prison than implement the violent policies of oppression of the Israeli army and government:
Noam Gur, an 18 year old woman from the north of Israel, expected to refuse and be imprisoned on April 16th, explains:
For 64 years Israel is implementing a policy of Apartheid and occupation in all territories under its control, that includes among other things, ethnic cleansing, house demolitions, ongoing siege, violent attacks, discrimination of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel and so on. When I understood all of this, I decided to refuse.
My refusal comes as an act of support and transition to a non-violent struggle to promote a just peace in Palestine-Israel, that will be based on full human and civil rights for all residents and refugees. I choose to refuse publicly and am willing to pay the price that the Israeli army will choose to lay upon me, in order to try and raise awareness to this injustice both in Israel and in the rest of the world.”
Alon Gurman, a 19 year old man from Tel Aviv expected to refuse and be imprisoned on April 16th, explains:
We have always been told that the Israeli military is meant to defend the citizens of Israel, when in reality, living in security has nothing to do with occupation and apartheid. The Israeli military acts in a way that is meant to embitter the lives of Palestinians, oppress any resistance to the occupation, and perpetuate a rule of terror, by applying extreme violence against civilian population, upholding an oppressive military “justice” system, a siege on Gaza, vast military operations and random house demolitions.
My refusal is an opportunity to raise awareness of the Israeli military’s racist crimes and to call upon the people of the world to stand by Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle against occupation and apartheid, and support their call for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, in solidarity with a society under occupation, striving for freedom, justice and equality.”
As Israel does not recognize the act of refusing military service, the army will sentence them as soldiers who refused an order: the order to become soldiers. They will be sentenced for disobeying an order in a military court, and sent to a military prison for a period of a few weeks after which they will be ordered again to become soldiers, refuse again, be sentenced again and imprisoned again. This may repeat itself for months.
Joining them is a reserved service officer who after serving in both the second Lebanon war and the attack on Gaza in 2009 (Operation Cast Lead), decided that he can no longer be a tool in the hands of the government implementing this injustice, and has declared his refusal to continue serving in the reserved service. Today, after ignoring his last order for reserved service, he is considered a deserter and plans to turn himself in with the two other young refusers.
Yigal Levin, a 25 year old man, burn in Ukraine and raised in Israel, expected be imprisoned on April 16th, explains:
Part of my ideology was that the state has to be wise, responsible, decent and protective. In Lebanon, I saw a war that started for no clear reason, where soldiers died in vain while also committing a massacre against the Lebanese.
The Israeli army is commonly considered to be ‘the people’s army’, an army of the people protecting the people,” writes Levin in his own statement. “But in fact, the Israeli army is simply a bourgeois army – a tool in the hands of a small clique, which does not give a damn about the people… Not willing to remain a mere tool, a traitor, and a hypocrite, I decided to terminate my participation in it.”
We will update about their imprisonment and ways to help in the coming weeks. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.