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Free Israel’s Prisoners of Conscience

by NEVE GORDON

Dear friends and supporters of the conscientious objectors,

The abuse of the conscientious objectors continues. The Israeli military is sentencing them to repetitive prison terms, with no end in sight. We must step up the campaign to release these courageous prisoners of conscience.

Below is a short petition we plan to publish in Israeli press soon. Please read and sign by sending a message to conscienceobjector@yahoo.com

Mention your name, first and then last in the subject of the message. In the message ad title and institutional affiliation.

Please spread the petition widely. We need as many signatories as possible.

Please note: The success of this campaign depends to a large extent on the funds we gather to support it. Placing an ad in a leading daily is very expensive. PLEASE, in addition to signing, contribute towards covering the cost ($10, $25, $50, $100, $200… $1,000).

Information how to contribute follows the petition.

Free the Prisoners of Conscience!

The State of Israel has been consistently abusing a group of young men who have refused to be conscripted on grounds of conscience. While religion continues to be a reason for exempting young men from army or national service, conscientious objection is considered a serious crime. Despite the fact that these objectors have announced their willingness to serve the state through some kind of civil service, the military, led by Menachem Finkelshtein the head military prosecutor, is punishing these young men again and again for the same “offence.”

It seems that there is no limit to the abuse: eleven young men have been sitting in jail for terms that just keep getting longer, and there is no end in sight. Finkelshtein wants to try them over and over again, until they break or give in. As far as he is concerned, these men can rot in jail forever. Finkelshtein has also created a committee of “experts” whose job it is to determine that not one of the young men is a “true” conscientious objector; every single one, the committee proclaimed, is lying and thus deserves to sit in jail.

These prisoners of conscience refuse to serve in an army that systematically violates the human rights of the Palestinian people. Yoni Ben-Artzi, the most veteran prisoner, has sat in jail for almost 200 days. By contrast, the soldier who killed a 95-year-old Palestinian woman was sentenced to 35 days in prison.

Names of the prisoners days in jail

Yoni Ben-Artzi 196 days

Dror Boymel 166 days

Uri Ya’acobi 134 days Haggai Matar 112 days

Yoni Yekhezkel 111 days

Hillel Goral 70 days Noam Bahat 70 days

Adam Maor 70 days

Matan Kaminer 56 days Shimri Tzameret 38 days

Avshalom Ben-Zvi 21 days

We, the undersigned, demand an end to this abuse and the immediate release of these prisoners of conscience conscienceobjector@yahoo.com .

Please pay online or send a check.

Contribute Online: To make a credit card contribution to support the prisoners of conscience, go to www.refusersolidarity.net and click on the DonateNow button

 

More articles by:

Neve Gordon is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate.

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