Sixty-three draft age youngsters from around Israel sent a letter on Thursday, December 28, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennet and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, declaring their refusal to be conscripted into the Israeli military because it oppresses the Palestinian people.
“We have decided not to take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people,” they wrote in their letter. “The ‘temporary’ situation has dragged on for 50 years, and we will not continue lending it a hand.”
The high-schoolers criticized the government and the military in the letter. “The army is carrying out the government’s racist policy, which violates basic human rights and executes one law for Israelis and another law for Palestinians in the same territory.”
Citing Defense Minister Liberman’s comments about revoking the citizenship of Araba in Israel, following mass protests there in the wake of US President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the students also protested, “Intentional institutional incitement against Palestinians on both sides of the 1967 border; we here – draft-age youth from different areas of the country and various socioeconomic backgrounds – refuse to believe in this system of incitement and to participate in the government’s arm of oppression and occupation.”
The signers of the letter also addressed other youth and asked that the latter reconsider their own military service: “We will refuse to serve in the military out of a commitment to the ideals of peace and with an awareness that we can create another better reality in which to live. We call upon our fellow youth to ask themselves – is military service in fact working towards this reality?” In the coming weeks, the group intends to visit various locations throughout Israel in order to enlist other youngsters to their cause.
One of the young men who signed the letter, Matan Helman from Kibbutz HaOgen, is already incarcerated in a military prison after refusing to be inducted into the army of occupation.