Wed 29 May 2024 6:53 pm - Jerusalem Time

An unprecedented increase in the number of people refusing to serve in Israeli army

On Wednesday, an Israeli left-wing organization revealed an unprecedented increase in the number of people refusing to serve in the Israeli army during its ongoing war on the Gaza Strip since last October 7.

The army imposes prison sentences on those who refuse to serve in its ranks.

The Israeli organization "There is a Limit", in a post on the "X" platform, quoted Sophia Orr, one of those who rejected military service, in a recent interview.

“I am willing to continue paying the price and be in prison, if that prevents the continued dehumanization in complete silence,” Orr said. “I must say, even from prison: They (the Palestinians) are human beings.”

According to the organization, the authorities put Orr in prison for a period because of her refusal to serve in the military.

Or added: "There is a huge difference between an army that carries out tasks during which injustices are committed and another whose activity is entirely injustices. This (Israeli) army is not intended for defense, but for conquest and oppression."

“There is a Limit” was founded in 1982, and is “a political movement aimed at supporting those who reject (military service),” according to its website.

The organization believes that "every citizen of a democratic country when serving in the army must decide what his red lines are, and any actions that exceed those lines."

It added: "In addition to the members of the movement who refuse to serve in the army and are looking for an alternative form of national service, there are opponents of the occupation and wars that are not defensive."

The organization aims to "influence public opinion against voluntary wars and the occupation of Palestinian territories," according to its website.

The Hebrew news website Zaman Israel quoted “There is a Limit” as saying, “In recent months there has been an increase in the number of leftists who refuse conscription in protest against the government’s policy toward the Palestinians.”

The war on Gaza left more than 117,000 Palestinians dead and wounded, most of them children and women, and about 10,000 missing amid massive destruction and famine that claimed the lives of children and the elderly.

The organization continued that "the increase in the number of people refusing to serve during the current war is unprecedented."

The website quoted the organization's spokesman, Yishai Menuhin, as saying that he "helped about 40 soldiers who refused to be conscripted into the reserve during the current war."

“Other activists in the organization helped dozens of others, and in total, the organization received about 100 requests for assistance from those who refused military service,” according to the website.

It added: "This compares to about 10-15 requests annually over the past decade, and about 40 requests annually during the peak years of the Lebanon War (2006) and the two uprisings in the Palestinian territories (1987 and 2000)."

“Those who refuse the service began contacting us in mid-October, and continued until the last days,” Menuhin said.

According to "Zaman Israel", another leftist group that encourages refusal to serve, called "Refutists", reported "a sharp increase in the number of rebel reserve soldiers who ask it for help, and refer them to other organizations."

The website also quoted left-wing activist David Zonshine, founder of the "Courage to Refuse" movement, that he received "requests for help from dozens of refuseniks during the current war, especially in recent months, which is much more than the requests he has received in recent years."

“In the first months of the war, there was an increase in the number of refusers due to the huge number of conscripts, which amounted to about 300,000, but in recent months, the scope of reserve recruitment decreased significantly, while the number of refusers continued to grow,” according to the website.

It attributed this to "the complexity of the war, the war crimes committed, and the growing protest against the government's behavior, and in addition to ideological rejection, there is rejection from soldiers exhausted by the prolongation of the war."

The website added, "At the end of last April, about 30 reserve soldiers in the Paratroopers Brigade, who were called to serve in Rafah, announced that they were refusing to serve."

It explained, "The long months of fighting harmed their studies, livelihoods, and families, and caused them emotional and physical distress."

As of 15:00 GMT, the army has not commented on the Zaman Israel report.

Israel continues the war on Gaza despite orders from the International Court of Justice to immediately stop the ground attack on the city of Rafah, and to take temporary measures to prevent acts of “genocide” and improve the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Strip.

The Israeli occupation also ignores the International Criminal Court’s intention to issue international arrest warrants against its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and its Defense Minister, Yoav Galant. For their responsibility for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in Gaza.


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An unprecedented increase in the number of people refusing to serve in Israeli army