As is the decades-long pratice of the IDF, refusniks are subjected to "diciplinary proceedings by the commanding officer" - i.e., an "instant trial" taking place behind closed doors, and usually lasting five minutes or less, and are denied the chance of a court martiall.in which the refusnik can be represented by a lawyer, call witnesses and have the press and general public present. True, a court martial can hand down a sentence of years-long imprisonment for disobedience while the "disciplinary proceeding" is limited to a maximum of 28 days; but there is nothing in the miltary code to prevent a soldier getting a new order immeriately upon release from prison and upon his refusal being immediately sent back behind bars; the only sanction against it is a strong public protest.
The latest such case seems to be that of Conscientious Objector Yigal Rosenberg, imprisoned on April 29 for the fourth consecutive time. (His prison address: Ig'al Rosenberg, Military ID 7303585, Military Prison No. 4, Military postal code 02507, IDF, Israel.)
To: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon We the undersigned, youths who grew up and were brought up in Israel, are about to be called to serve in the IDF. We hereby lodge to you our protest against the aggressive and racist policy pursued by the Israeli government's and its army, and inform you that we do not intend to take part in the implementation of this policy.Please pass it on to whoever you think may be eligible to sign. The email for endorsement is Haggai Mattar's: firstname.lastname@example.org
We strongly object to Israel's violation of human rights. Land expropriation, arrests, extra-judicial executions, house demolition, closure, torture, and the prevention of health care are only some of the crimes the state of Israel perpetrates, in blunt violation of the international conventions it has ratified. These actions are not only illegitimate; they do not even achieve their stated goal - increasing the citizens' personal safety. Such safety can only be achieved through a just peace between the government of Israel and the Palestinian people.
Therefore we will follow the dictates of our conscience and refuse to take part in acts of oppression against the Palestinian people, acts which should properly be called terrorist acts. We call upon everybody facing miltary service - persons of our own age, conscripts, soldiers in the standing army, and reservists to do the same.
The complete list of signers, as well as a response letter sent to the youths by bereaved Palestinian families, and other responses are available at http://oznik.com/petitions/010822.html . The Hebrew version is at http://oznik.com/h/petitions/010822.html
The Support Forum for Conscientious Objectors (email@example.com 051-596492), of which Rosenberg is a member, is regularly orgainising the distribution of thousands of flyers to youngsters, entitled: "Just Say No"; holds regular activist meetings in Tel-Aviv and Haifa; and will hold solidarity envents in both cities (May 23 in Camera Obscura, Tel Aviv; May 29 HoTenTot Gallery, Haifa); for more info call Dani Ben Simhon 051-596492.
Sergeiy Sandler of New Profile has compiled a detailed list of all 41 imprisoned refusniks, including biographical details, exact lenth of remaining term, the threat of reimprisonment etc, as well as addresss to which protests and solidarity letters can be sent. Reproducing it in full would make this billboard impossibly bulky, you can get the full text and constant updates from <firstname.lastname@example.org. Here we can only quote the words of two prisoners:
Victor Sabransky: "I was raised on democratic values and believe in full equality among people. I am sure the main reason I have not until now declared refusal is the fear... and the social pressure applied by the Israeli society to enlist in the State's military forces... I am not a soldier at all, I am still a boy and I was born into this world to live and not to die in the Territories for the misguided policy of the State and the Military..."
Amnon Hillel "It is the duty of every human being to do whatever in his or her power to stop the terrible oppression perpetrated by the government of Israel, through its army, against the Palestinian people, and lately also against Israelis and internationals trying to protest against the policy of occupation, degradation, killing, revenge, discrimination, intimidation and the other forms of violence practiced by the army. There never was and there never will be any true justification to the terrible violence practiced by the army".
All four soldiers refused to perform this duty and were sent to 28 days in prison on 25 Apr. This is the first known case of four soldiers from the same unit refusing together; hitherto, a refusnik was usually alone in his unit, with perhpas a few others sympathising but not sharing his act.) (Prison addresses: Shay Biran, Military ID 6993743: Yiftah Admoni, Military ID 6961658; Alon Dror, ID 7014088; Tomer Friedman, ID 6993743 - all of them at Military Prison no. 6, ilitary Postal code 01860, IDF, Israel.
Three of the four objectors wrote letters explaining their refusal. Highlights from these letters in English were posted on IMC-Israel: http://www.indymedia.org.il/imc/israel/webcast/display.php3?article_id=25414
The full Hebrew text is available on the website of Yesh-Gvul, at: http://www.yesh-gvul.org/sadir-letters0402.doc
A fifth guard-turned-prisoner is First Sgt. Rafram Haddad (26), a reservist with the military police and in civilian life an art student and journalist with the Jerusalem weekly "Kol Ha'ir" was sentenced on April 29 to 28 days jail for refusing to serve as a guard at the Megiddo detention camp. (Prison address: Rafram Haddad, Military ID 5118505, Military Prison No. 4, Military postal code 02507, Israel.)
Meanwhile, the petition of university lecturers expressing support for student refusniks is gathering momentum, despite - or perhaps becuase - of last week's vicious extreme right demonstration which called for expulsion of these lecturers, and also despite Education Minister Limor Livnat's call to have them prosecuted.
So far, nearly two hundred faculty members of Israeli universities signed, and the signatures of more of them can be sent to Anat Biletzki <email@example.com. (This is just for faculty members. Sorry.) On Tuesday night, the statement will go up on the seruv website (where you can now see two preliminary statements http://www.seruv.org.il/ ).