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We refuse this fight

Conscientious objectors
12 April 2002

Shalom,

This is sent to you in the hardest of circumstances, right after 13 reserve soldiers were killed in a refugee camp in Jenin. We cannot avoid the feeling that but for our refusal to serve there, we too could be in fatal danger. We also know that our refusal will be portrayed as cowardice by those who do not support us to. We all feel that refusing to serve during war is that much harder. Yet we continue to refuse, and more and more of us are paying the price. More on numbers below.

Here is a testimony from Ishai Sagi, a Lieutenant (res.) in the Artillery.

In December 2001 I was called to do reserve duty in the Territories for the first time. I was given a week’s notice, an emergency call-up. The whole regiment was given a briefing in a large auditorium near Nablus. We were given an overview of the situation since the riots. We were also given our instructions for opening fire: “anyone who picks up a stone, shoot him”. There were some whispers behind me, but we were all good soldiers. We shut up.

As we were replacing the infantry soldiers at the Tapuach outpost, their officers give us our instructions: “every Friday a group of inhabitants from Tapuach (you mustn’t call them settlers, they don’t like it) head down to the junction and throw stones at Palestinian cars. Once, a photographer arrived, and so they stopped a car and set it on fire for him.” We asked what we were meant to do in a situation like that, and the answer was clear: “You are not allowed to touch Israeli citizens. The only unit allowed to touch them is the police. Call the police in Ariel (ten minutes’ drive away), and they’ll come”.

“And what will they do when they come?”, I asked. “They’ll stand by the side of the junction and after five minutes the settlers stop and go home.”

Here are some updates:

  • There are now 34 conscientious objectors in military prisons.
  • The army has reinstated an old practice: upon their release from 14 days' imprisonment, two reserve soldiers were given another immediate call-up. They refused, and were sentenced to another 14 days...
  • We are now 406 signatories, and rising.
  • Our website is: www.seruv.org.il

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