Dear friends of Israeli refusers:
You will find below an urgent request for support regarding two developments in the refuser movement: the hunger strike of objectors Noam Bahat and Hillel Goral and the general issue of the repeated imprisonment of objectors. In addition, this update contains information on all the objectors currently held in military prisons in Israel; this information is provided by New Profile.
These are not positive developments, and they quite possibly herald a new phase of pressure and intimidation against refusers, especially members of the Shministim, high school students who refuse to serve Occupation.
I do have some good news to offer you, though. This past weekend, on January 18 and 19, representatives of all the refuser groups met in New York City with 20 RSN activists from around the country, Europe and South Africa. It was a VERY successful meeting and will, without doubt, lead to a much higher level of global activity in support of refusers. I will soon send you a complete report on this meeting.
2002 was an incredible and important year for the refuser movement in Israel; it was, in many ways, the "Year of the Refuser." Courage to Refuse was created and grew dramatically, having a powerful impact within Israel and around the world; the Shministim re-issued their letter with signers jumping from 62 to over 300; Keren Yesh Gvul met the needs of scores of imprisoned refusers and their families; refusers toured all over the United States and Europe, bringing their message directly into the Jewish community and general public. It was also a challenging year, with the crushing violence of suicide bombings and massive invasions of the West Bank leveling off the momentum of refuser growth.
2003 is going to be a very tough year for refusers within Israel -- and this makes the work of the Refuser Solidarity Network ever more crucial. We plan to greatly increase our activity and visibility, and will be looking to you to help us make 2003 the "Year of Refuser Solidarity."
With more details forthcoming, we thank you in advance for your support,
Steven Feuerstein Coordinator Refuser Solidarity Network
APPEAL FOR ACTION FROM NEW PROFILE
Because exceptionally massive action is required, please make a special effort to circulate the information contained in this update as widely as possible, by e-mail, by posting it on websites, on public meetings and in any other way.
I. THE HUNGER STRIKE
Objectors Hillel Goral and Noam Bahat, both among the signatories of the Letter of the Seniors 2002 (http://www.shministim.org), are on the fifth day of their hunger strike in prison (we have issued a press release on this issue, which can be read at
Noam Bahat is currently held in the isolation ward of Prison 4. Hillel Goral was transferred on late in the evening of 19 Jan. to Prison 6, and is held in the isolation ward of that prison. In addition to being on hunger strike, the two objectors refuse to wear military uniforms in prison. Both received visits from their families and from Adv. Yossi Wolffson and Adv. Orna Kohn. Reportedly, they are in good health and high spirits.
Objector Noam Bahat passed the following statement on his family visit:
"I, Noam Bahat, 'a soldier in the army of non-violence', hereby declare:
"On Thursday, 16 January, I began a hunger strike, protesting the occupation of the Palestinian people, the human rights violations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, the detention of conscientious objectors in military prison, our recurrent sentences and the turning of the State of Israel into a fascist state before our eyes.
"With my hunger strike, I hope to open the eyes of many people to the distress of the Palestinian people, that is so near yet so far from us, Israelis.
"I also state that in prison too, I carry on my combat based on the principle of non-cooperation with the army, while maintaining physical and verbal non-violence with respect to the staff (commanders) and the rest of the prisoners.
"It is sometimes difficult to conduct the struggle against myself, to restrain myself facing the senseless rigidity of the young wardens (not all, but a large part of them).
"But, as Milan Kundera put it in his book The Joke: 'At that time I felt nothing but hatred toward him, and in the blinding light of hatred objects lose their plasticity. I saw the commander as a vindictive and cunning rat. But today he is seen by me first of all as a human being, who was young and was playing. After all, one cannot blame young people for the love of play inherent in them, they are not yet mature and are already throw into a mature world, and they have to act as mature people. Therefore they hastily fall back on their favorite formulas and patterns - and so they play'.
"I hereby call upon all young people facing conscription or already conscripted: use your power of judgment. Do you intend to cooperate with the horrifying regime of [Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon, as the instrument of execution? And if you do intend to enlist, do not forget for a single moment that the army takes away from you, at the moment of mobilization, your power of judgment. Consequently, you must consider in advance what are the lines you shall never be willing to cross, because once you are inside, everything gets blurred up.
"Noam Bahat, Prisoner No. 7165951, Sunday, 19 January 2003".
Objector Hillel Goral announced that: "On 16 January 2003 I began a hunger strike, and have not taken in any food since. I intend to continue this hunger strike for as long as I am held in prison. The reason for this hunger strike is my wish to protest against the imprisonment and treatment of conscientious objectors by the State of Israel, as well as against the crimes of the occupation of Palestine".
Recommended Action in Support of the Hunger Strikers:
There are three kinds of action that can be taken in support of the hunger strikers - writing letters of support and encouragement to the objectors themselves, applying massive pressure directly on the military authorities on their behalf and applying indirect pressure on the military authorities by raising the issue to public awareness.
The prison addresses of the two objectors are:
Noam Bahat Hillel Goral Military ID 7165951 Military ID 7269230 Isolation ward Isolation ward Military Prison No. 4 Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 02507 Military postal code 01860 IDF, Israel IDF, Israel
Letters can also be sent to them care of the Seniors' Letter 2002, POB 70094, Haifa 31700, or by e-mail to mailto:Shministim@hotmail.com.
There is a chance that letters sent directly to the prison address will not reach the objectors themselves. On the other hand, such letters serve as an additional form of pressure applied to the prison authorities. The best option, if feasible, would be to send your letters in two copies - one at the prison address and the other c/o the Seniors' Letter.
Of the military authorities, it is especially important to send letters of protest to the commanders of the prisons where the objectors are held. It is especially advisable to send your letters by fax (so that they reach their destination as soon as possible):
Commander of Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel
Commander of Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 01860, IDF Israel
Better still would be to send the letter in the original to the Minister of Defense, and send copies to the commanders of the military prisons. This way your letter will have an effect not only on the prison authorities, but also on the rest of the military system. The address for the Minister of Defense is:
Shaul Mofaz Minister of Defense Ministry of Defense 37 Kaplan st. Tel-Aviv 61909 Fax: 03-6917915 or 03-6916940 or 03-6962757 E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, it is strongly recommended to send your letters by fax. It is less recommended to use e-mail for this purpose.
Those of you outside Israel could consider sending your fax through the Internet. This might be both more convenient and cheaper than sending a letter by ground mail.
Points that could be made in your letters of protest:
* Concern for the well-being of the hunger strikers
* Protest against the very imprisonment of conscientious objectors, which is in violation of their human right to freedom of conscience
* Protest against the repeated imprisonment of objectors, which constitutes arbitrary detention.
* Reference to the human rights violations conducted by the Israeli army in occupied Palestine and presenting these two kinds of human rights violation as belonging to the same pattern of behavior.
Copies of your letters of protest can definitely be sent also to the media in Israel and abroad. Some addresses and fax numbers of Israeli media can be found at http://www.newprofile.org/News/index.html#ktovot.
II. REPEATED IMPRISONMENT
One of the factors behind the hunger strike is the army's policy to send objectors to prison time and time again. Israeli law puts no real limitation to the army's practice of re-imprisonment, and the present policy of the army is to try to force the objectors to betray their convictions by intimidation and recurrent imprisonment.
Objector Jonathan Ben-Artzi began serving his 7th consecutive prison term on 16 Jan. He was sentenced to 35 days in prison, which brings his overall sentence to 196 days if imprisonment. He is expected to be released from prison on 16 Feb., but like all his peers, might be sent to prison once more.
Objector Dror Beuml was sentenced to 35 days in prison on 19 Jan. This is his 6th prison term in a row. His overall sentence thus reaches 168 days. Dror is being held in the isolation ward of prison because he refuses to wear military uniform in prison. he is due out of prison on 19 Feb, and might be imprisoned again.
Objectors Uri Yaacoby and Yoni Yekhezkel are not in prison at the moment, but are expected to be imprisoned again, respectively, for the 7th and 6th time in a row. So far they have spent 134 and 97 days in military prison respectively.
The statements given by these four objectors before their first imprisonment appeared in one of our previous updates, and can be seen at:
Other objectors imprisoned repeatedly, and held in prison at the moment, are:
Haggai Mattar - 3rd term, total of 103 days Adam Maor - 2nd term, total of 70 days Matan Kaminer - 2nd term, total of 42 days Noam Bahat (on hunger strike) - 2nd term, total of 70 days Hillel Goral (on hunger strike) - 2nd term, total of 42 days
Objector Shimri Tzameret, who was already imprisoned once for 28 days, started his second prison term today. We do not yet know what is the length of the prison term he has been given. Shimri publishes his impressions from military prison on the Internet (in Hebrew only) at:
All these ten objectors are signatories of the Letter of the Seniors 2002 (http://www.shministim.org).
Pressure works; more pressure needed
Before he was sentenced to his 7th term in prison, objector Jonathan Ben-Artzi appeared before the Commander of the Induction Base, Deborah Chassid. However, Chassid, who was supposed to sentence him, this time notified Jonathan that she passes his case on to her superiors. So it happened that Jonathan was sentenced by the Head of Manpower Division in the army, General Gil Regev.
Objector Uri Yaacoby, after being released from prison for the 6th time, was directed by the same Deborah Chassid to the medical personnel. However, when he appeared before a medical committee, that could have exempted him from military service and from going back to prison once more, he was told that he is 'a hot potato', which nobody would catch without passing on, and turned down.
What these two stories demonstrate is that the pressure we all put on the military authorities regarding imprisoned objectors works, but that more pressure is needed. It appears that the various officials in the military system, even such fairly high-ranked officials as the Commander of the Induction Base, can hardly withhold the pressure they are under regarding the imprisoned objectors. As a result they prefer to shed off responsibility for such cases, and pass the 'hot potato' on, up the military chain of command. What follows from all this is that if we all put even greater pressure on the even more senior ranks of the army, the entire military system will be forced to drop these 'hot potatoes' out of their hands completely.
First of all, it is always important to cheer up the objectors in prison with letters of support. Here are their prison addresses:
Jonathan Ben-Artzi Military ID 7169436 Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel.
Dror Beuml Military ID 7282965 Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel.
Haggai Mattar Military ID 7281989 Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 01860, IDF Israel.
Matan Kaminer Military ID 7176324 Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel.
Adam Maor Military ID 7246176 Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel.
Shimri Tzameret Military ID 7305627 Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 01860, IDF Israel.
Noam Bahat Military ID 7165951 Isolation ward Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507 IDF, Israel
Hillel Goral Military ID 7269230 Isolation ward Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 01860 IDF, Israel
Letters can also be sent to them care of the Seniors' Letter 2002, POB 70094, Haifa 31700, or by e-mail to mailto:Shministim@hotmail.com.
As mentioned above, there is a chance that letters sent directly to the prison address will not reach the objectors themselves. On the other hand, such letters serve as an additional form of pressure applied to the prison authorities. The best option, if feasible, would be to send your letters in two copies - one at the prison address and the other c/o the Seniors' Letter.
A special online petition to end the repeated imprisonment of draft resisters was opened recently. It was signed so far by over 1700 people, and there's more to come. You can join this petition at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/091202/.
As explained above, it is crucially important to operate massive pressure on various military authorities regarding the repeated imprisonment of objectors. One way to operate such pressure would be by sending letters of protest to these authorities. It is especially recommended to send these letters by fax (to have them arrive quicker). Two versions of a sample letter appear below, although nothing is quite like writing your own letter.
Three people that should be under exceptionally big pressure are the Military Attorney General (who is probably the initiator of the present policy against objectors), the Commander of the Induction Base, the Head of the Manpower Division of the army and the Head of Incompatibility Unit at the Induction Base:
Menachem Finkelstein Military Attorney General Military postal code 9605, IDF Israel. Fax: 03-7376052
Deborah Chassid Commander of Induction Base in Tel-Hashomer Military postal code 02718, IDF Israel. Fax 03-7376052
Gil Regev Head of Manpower Division. Fax: 03-5699400
Head of the Incompatibility Unit Induction base. Fax: 03-7376705.
Other factors to which copies of your appeals could be sent are the Minister of Defense and the commanders of military prisons, whose addresses appear above, as well as the Chief of Staff:
Moshe Yaalon Chief of Staff Kaplan st. Tel-Aviv. Fax: 03-5695594
Copies of your letters of protest can definitely be sent to Israeli and international media. Some addresses of Israeli media outlets could be seen at: http://www.newprofile.org/News/index.html#ktovot.
One more factor to which it is especially important to send copies of your appeals is the Israeli embassy in your country. You can get the address of your nearest embassy or consulate at http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0czk0.
Media outlets in your own country are as important. At times when Israel is in great pain to maintain its international propaganda effort, facing international concern regarding human rights violations in Palestine, opening a 'second front' on the issue of the treatment of objectors could actually make Israel start to take international criticism in general much more seriously.
Here are two sample versions of a letter of protest regarding the repeated imprisonment of objectors. Each of this formulations can be used in your letter, although it is always better (if you have the time) to create your own version of the letter.
--- Version 1 (short)
Re: The recurrent imprisonment of conscientious objectors
Dear Sir / Madam,
In recent months, various military officers have sentenced young conscientious objectors to repeated prison terms. I hereby ask you to allow them, after many months spent in prison, to face the "Incompatibility Committee", which has the authority to exempt them form military service.
There is no justification for your insistence to keep these determined youths behind bars. No prison term, no matter how long, will cause them to betray their beliefs.
Is there any better proof to the fact they are not suitable for military service than the long time they spent in prison, and their objection to violence in general and to occupation of another people in particular?
These are the objectors who spent more than 90 days in prison so far:
Jonathan Ben-Artzi, military ID 7169436, 7th term, total sentence - 196 days Dror Beuml, military ID 7282965, 6th term, total sentence - 168 days Uri Yaacoby, military ID 7342725, served 6 prison terms, total sentence - 133 days Haggai Mattar, military ID 7281989, 3rd term, total sentence - 105 days Yoni Yekhezkel, military ID 7246176, served 4 prison terms, total sentence - 98 days
--- Version 2 (legal)
Dear Sir / Madam,
I was informed that Jonathan Ben-Artzi (Military ID 7169436) and Dror Beuml (7282965), conscientious objectors to military service, have been sent to prison for the 7th and 6th time in a row on 16 and 19 Jan. 2003 respectively. Also serving repeated prison terms, or awaiting repeated imprisonment, are conscientious objectors Uri Yaacoby (7342725), Yoni Yekhezkel (7246523), Haggai Mattar (7281989), Hillel Goral (7269230), Matan Kaminer (7176324), Adam Maor (7246176), Noam Bahat (7165951) and Shimri Tzameret (7305627).
The imprisonment of conscientious objectors to military service is in clear violation the human right to freedom of conscience, as recognized in article 18 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights - signed and ratified by the State of Israel.
Moreover, the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors to military service has been recognized by the United Nations as a form of arbitrary detention. Such repeated imprisonment is an attempt to change a person's conviction using brute force. It is a practice that is intolerable where the rule of law prevails.
Thus, the practices of the Israeli army with respect to declared conscientious objectors are patently illegal and should be halted at once. These practices join many other patently illegal and criminal practices of the Israeli army with respect to other people and populations, of which you are no doubt aware.
I therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of all conscientious objectors, including those mentioned above, without fear of further imprisonment.
III. OTHER IMPRISONED OBJECTORS
Apart from those already mentioned, there are three more objectors in prison at the moment:
1. Yoni Kozlovsky
Yoni Kozlovsky (29, single) of Tel Aviv was sentenced on Jan. 19 to 28 days in military prison for refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories. Kozlovsky, who is preparing his Ph.D. thesis in neuroscience at the Tel Aviv University, is brother of Ro'i Kozlovsky, who was sentenced for refusal before the outbreak of the intifada. He is due to be released from prison on 13 Feb.
Yoni defended his refusal with the following statement:
"I refuse to serve in the occupied territories because I believe in liberty, equality and fraternity - words almost forgotten in Hebrew. I refuse to take part in an occupation that denies three million Palestinians their freedom and human rights. I refuse to take part in an occupation marked by crimes and immoral deeds, an occupation that kills civilians and steals their land, an occupation that employs detention, closures, starvation, torture, theft and killing.
"I detest the occupation because the occupation is racism. I hope Palestinians and Israelis achieve peace, through a compromise resting upon reconciliation, justice and morality, mutual respect and compassion".
Yoni is currently in Prison 4 , but has asked for a transfer to Prison 6. His current prison address is:
Yoni Kozlovsky Military ID 5035744 Reserves company Military Prison No. 4 Military postal code 02507, IDF Israel
You can also write to him c/o the post office box of Courage to Refuse, POB 16238, Tel-Aviv, or by e-mail to mailto:email@example.com.
2. Avshalom Ben-Zvi
Avshalom Ben-Zvi, a 19-year-old conscript, among the signatories of the Seniors' Letter 2002, was sentenced on 14 Jan. to 21 days in military prison for his refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories. He is due out of prison on 1 Feb. Due to the great overload that the military prison system experiences for some months now, he is held not in one of the military prisons, but in a detention cell in one of the military training bases in the center of Israel. We do not have the address of this location, but it is possible to send him letters c/o the Seniors' Letter 2002, POB 70094, Haifa 31700, or via e-mail at mailto:Shministim@hotmail.com.
3. Lior Livneh
Lior Livneh was sentenced on 7 Jan. to 28 days in military prison for his refusal to perform reserves military service in the Ktziot detention camp for Palestinian prisoners. He is due out of prison on 1 Feb. His prison address is:
1st Sgt. Lior Livneh Reserves ward Military Prison No. 6 Military postal code 01860, IDF Israel
You can also write to him c/o Courage to Refuse at POB 16238, Tel- Aviv, or via e-mail at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another objector, Shachar Ben-Har, was released earlier today from military prison, at the end of a 14-day term. It is possible that he be imprisoned again in the near future.
Shachar Ben-Har notified the army at the end of December that he discontinues his service as conscript in the Israeli army on conscientious grounds. The document in which he has announced it is very impressive, but alas too long to bring here. The Hebrew speakers among you may read it on the Internet at http://www.indymedia.org.il/imc/israel/webcast/45259.html.
First of all, please circulate this message and the information contained in it as widely as possible, not only through e-mail, but also on websites, conventional media, by word of mouth, etc.
Also, please send the objectors letters of support to the addresses listed above.
Other recommendations for action:
Letters to Authorities:
It is recommended to send letters of protest on behalf of the objectors to the Minister of Defense, as well as to the commanders of the military prisons. Their addresses appear above in this update.
If possible, please send copies of your appeals to other military and government authorities, as well as to the Israeli media. Addresses can be found at: http://www.newprofile.org/english/Summery_CO_01.html (see the bottom of the page). Please be aware that writing to the media at this time is more important than ever. For those of you who live outside Israel, sending copies of you appeals to your local Israeli embassy or consulate (see their addresses at http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp? MFAH0czk0), as well as to media outlets in your own area, might be especially useful.
A standard sample letter is available at the bottom of the same web page (http://www.newprofile.org/english/Summery_CO_01.html#sample). However it would be advisable to adjust your letter to the particular circumstances of the case.
Thank you, Sergeiy Sandler - New Profile.
refusing to kill