First conscientious objector to war with Hamas is jailed

Tal Mitnick, 18, refused to serve in “a war of revenge” for an “occupation army” and was given a 30-day sentence.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The first Israeli conscientious objector to the war with Hamas was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail for refusing to serve.

Tal Mitnick, 18, walked into the Tel Hashomer recruitment center with a group of like-minded teens to officially inform the IDF of his decision.

In his letter’s reasoning, he fully took the Palestinian view of the conflict, writing in part, “My refusal is an attempt to influence Israeli society, and is intended to avoid taking part in the occupation and the massacre that is happening in Gaza…. I do not agree that people will be killed in my name…. I express solidarity with the innocents in Gaza.”

While castigating both Israeli and Hamas leaders as “corrupt,” he also put the onus on “the circle of violence” of the IDF, which he said “doesn’t protect us,” and called it “nothing more than the occupation-and-settlement enterprise-maintenance army.”

In a statement subsequently released by his representatives following the quick trial, the Tel Aviv resident added, “I refuse to believe that more violence will bring security. I refuse to take part in a war of revenge…. In the world full of corrupt interests in which we live, violence and war are another way to increase support for the government and silence criticism.”

Read  Mass exodus of Gazans from Rafah as IDF operation looms

“We must recognize the fact that after weeks of the ground operation in Gaza, at the end of the day – negotiations, an agreement, brought back the hostages. It was actually military action that caused them to be killed,” he added.

Mitnick’s opinion stands in sharp contrast to the government’s conviction that it was the IDF’s overwhelming military force that brought Hamas to the negotiating table to enable it to catch its breath last month, and that it must thus continue.

In exchange for a pause in the fighting for a week and more humanitarian aid, it released just over 100 hostages of some 250 its fighters abducted during their invasion of Israel October 7, when they massacred 1,200 people in Gazan envelope communities, setting off the ongoing war.

The teen’s sentence is considered unusually harsh for a first-time objector, but as some pointed out, refusal to serve during wartime can easily be considered treason. The usual procedure is for the draftee to be called again after serving his sentence, and if he refuses again, he could be sent back to jail.

Mitnick is a member of several groups that vociferously objected to the judicial reforms that the government wanted to implement that saw the country rocked by large protests on a weekly basis for most of the year, until the war broke out.

Read  Netanyahu slams 'absurd' proposed US sanctions against IDF unit as 'a moral low'

At least one of them, “Youth Against Dictatorship,” also mentioned the “occupation” when 200 of its members, including co-initiator Mitnick, warned back in August that they will not enlist in “an army that serves a dictatorship – in Israel and in the occupied territories.”

The Israeli right wing, which won the elections last year, calls the area Israel liberated from Jordan in the Six Day War “Judea and Samaria,” as this was the region’s name during Biblical times when Jewish kingdoms existed in Israel. According to the UN’s own charter, it was part of the British Mandate that was meant to be part of a future Jewish state, and its annexation by Jordan following Israel’s War of Independence was not recognized by any countries in the world except Great Britain and Iraq.