Israeli imprisoned for refusing military service

This article was originally published on ‘Liberal Conspiracy‘. 

Earlier this week, 19 year old Israeli Natan Blanc was sentenced to a fourth term in prison after refusing to sign up to military service.

Blanc has been given an additional 14 days in prison for refusing to join the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).  He will serve his sentence in military prison No. 6 near Atlit.

The Israeli peace group New Profile has called for the “the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Natan Blanc”.

Hannah Brock from the UK charity ‘War Resisters International’ also condemned the decision saying,

“His conscientious objection, like that of many others in Israel and around the world, highlights what he calls the ‘aggressive militarism’ in society. This is the fourth time Natan has been imprisoned for the same ‘offence’. Repeated imprisonment is a violation of international legal standards”

Indeed, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary. The right to conscientious objection to military service is enshrined in the ICCPR.

Most Jewish Israelis are conscripted at the age of 18 – although the position of ultra-orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs in the military has long been a point of political tension in Israel.

When Blanc first refused military service he explained his decision saying:

“After four years full of terror, without a political process [towards peace negotiations], and without quiet in Gaza and Sderot, it is clear that the Netanyahu Government, like that of his predecessor Olmert, is not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it…we, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game”.

Blanc’s full statement can be read in both Hebrew and English here.

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