Israeli refuses military service because of Gaza brutality
Jewish Israeli Mattan Hellman (20), of Kibbutz Ha’ogen, has refused to serve in the Israeli military citing the ongoing violence and claiming to be a conscientious objector.
Conscientious objectors are recognized in most civilized military systems, including int he United States. However, Israel severely punishes Jews who refuse service. Hellman is a member of Mesarvot, an organization of Israelis who refuse to serve in the occupation.
Hellaman has refused citing the unnecessary and excessive violence against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. Snipes have targeted and killed more than 41 Palestinians during the past four weeks of non-violent demonstrations and protests that Israel falsely claims are “violent.”
Most of the individuals killed have been teenagers who were at the protest, and at least two Palestinian journalists documenting the news event who were shot in the head by Israeli soldiers.
Following six periods of incarceration amounting to 110 days, the IDF has exempted conscientious objector Mattan Hellman from service. The reason given by the Incompatibility Commission was “severe bad behaviour.”
As he left prison Mattan Hellman said: “If fifty years of occupation were not enough, then the events of the last few weeks at the Gaza border should be enough to convince anyone with any humanity and understanding that these acts are the ones leading to the ongoing escalation in the cycle of bloodshed.”
“I am leaving prison with my head held high, knowing that many young people in Israel are conscientious and honest and will refuse to take part in the occupation and Israel’s continuing oppression of the Palestinians.”
Background of Mattan Hellman:
Mattan Hellman (20), of Kibbutz Ha’ogen, first arrived at the Induction Center in Tel Hashomer Camp last November, accompanied by dozens of supporters, and announced his refusal to join the army. Since then Hellman has been sentenced to six periods of incarceration, totalling 110 days in military prison, all served in Prison 6. A month ago he was summoned to the military Conscience Committee, where he explained his conscientious world view which obliges him to refuse to serve; the committee rejected his petition.
In his statement of refusal, made public before he came to the Induction Center, Hellman said: “Even the most moral human being would not turn the occupation into a moral act; there is no justification to this domination of civilians and there is no such thing as a moral occupation.”
CO Ayelet Brechfeld (18), from Tel Aviv, is also currently serving 61 days in prison for refusing to join the military. Hellman and Brechfeld are both active in Mesarvot – a network of political refusal, which connects initiatives and groups of conscientious refusal from recent years for joint action. The network supports conscientious objectors who choose not to join the occupation army, while bringing attention to the gendered impacts of conscription on Israeli society. The network is a partner of the Yesh Gvul movement.