By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
They did it again. Israeli authorities have put 19 year-old Natan Blanc in prison for the ninth time for courageously putting into practice his conscientiously held beliefs and refusing to serve in the Israeli military.
We have followed Natan’s on-going struggle through Urgent Actions and a blog posted on April 8, 2013.
Amnesty International considers those imprisoned for total or selective objection to military service for reasons of conscience to be prisoners of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Natan has served some 130 days in jail already since refusing the military call-up for the first time last November. Every few weeks he is released, then tried and imprisoned again after repeating his refusal to serve in the army.
Over the years, many young Israelis have avoided the draft through mental or physical health deferments, or on religious grounds. In October 2012, 17-year-old Omar Sa’ad, a Druze from the Galilee, refused in an open letter to the Prime Minister and Defense Minister to undergo a medical examination, the usual procedure for anyone once they become eligible for conscription in the Israeli army. In the letter he said:
“I refuse because I am a man of peace and I hate all forms of violence, and the military institution represents for me the peak of physical and psychological violence.”
He now could be arrested at any point and be taken to the induction base to undergo the medical examination.
Noam Gur, 18, went to prison in April 2012, after declaring her refusal “… to join an army that has, since it was established, been engaged in dominating another nation, in plundering and terrorizing a civilian population that is under its control.”
She served two prison sentences before being granted an exemption from military service.
The right to object to military service on grounds of conscience is protected under international human rights law and although Israeli law does allow for pacifists to be exempted, the review committee for this process frequently rejects their cases. Amnesty believes that the Israeli government should establish a fully independent and impartial body to assess claims of conscientious objection in a fair and transparent manner.
You can help Natan gain his freedom and let him know he’s not alone.
Write to the Israeli authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Natan Blanc, Military ID 7571369. Point out that where a state does not entirely exempt Conscientious Objectors from military service, then it must ensure the availability of alternative non-punitive civilian service as an alternative to imprisonment.
Write to: Brigadier General Danny Efroni Military Judge Advocate General 6 David Elazar Street Hakirya Tel Aviv, Israel Fax: +972 3-569 4526 Fax: +972 3 608 0366 E-mail: [email protected]
Write Natan at: Natan Blanc Military ID 7571369 Military Prison No. 6 Military Postal Code / DZ 01860, IDF Israel Fax: +972-4-9540580 Or, use [email protected]