By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
5/30/2013 UPDATE: Success! What does it take for the Israeli military to stop imprisoning Natan Blanc? It takes Amnesty International and other activists making their concerns known and taking action.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision apparently follows a decision by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not. In practice, it seems to work as a mechanism for the IDF to rid itself of the problem of conscientious objectors who have been repeatedly imprisoned by declaring their ‘unsuitability’ based on poor mental health or discipline problems.
Natan is expected to be set free June 6th. Thank you for taking action. No further action is required at this time.
Courageous, tenacious, 19 year old Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc is back in an Israeli prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli military for reasons of conscience.
On completion of this current sentence, Natan will have served a total of 178 days in prison for refusing to serve in the army. On May 12th, he was sentenced to 28 days in military prison – his longest sentence to date.
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.
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.
Over the years, many young Israelis have avoided the draft through mental or physical health deferments, or on religious grounds, and every year a handful of Israeli teenagers go to prison every year because they refuse to serve in the country’s army for reasons of conscience.
What will it take for Israel to stop imprisoning its youth who refuse to serve in the military for reasons of conscience?
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.
For now, Amnesty has joined efforts with New Profile, Connection e. V.,War Resisters’ International, Yesh Gvul and Gush Shalom to call on Israel to release Natan Blanc -immediately and unconditionally – with a petition targeting Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon directly. Click here to add your name.
An open letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to call on Israel to release Natan Blanc was drafted by Jewish Voice for Peace just last week and has already garnered several thousand signatures. Click here to add your name to the letter.
Kerry’s regular visits to Jerusalem and Ramallah, including his latest trip underway, are opportunities to draw attention to the plight of conscientious objectors in Israel and Natan Blanc’s case in particular.
To send Natan Blanc letters or emails while he is in prison, send to:
Natan Blanc Military ID 7571369
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code / DZ 01860, IDF
Email: [email protected] (Subject Line: Natan Blanc)
For more background information, click here.