Six months after he was sentenced to his first prison term for refusing to join the IDF, Communist conscientious objector Omar Sa’ad was released from military service on Wednesday. Sa’ad, an 18-year-old violist from the northern village Maghar, was sentenced to his first term on December 5th, 2013 in the Tiberias induction base. Since then, he was sentenced six more times for a total of 150 days.
Sa’ad first stated his intention to refuse in late 2012, when he sent an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which declared his support for Palestinians struggle under occupation, as well as his opposition to recruitment into the IDF “and any other army for conscience and nationalistic reasons.”
Sa’ad’s time in prison was not easy. In early May, he was hospitalized with a liver infection after complaining to his prison guards for three straight days. The guards at Prison 4 allegedly ignored his complaints, thinking he was just pretending or exaggerating. Sa’ad was then transferred to Prison 6, where it was decided to move him to a military medical clinic before a doctor finally decided that he must be transferred the emergency room. Sa’ad eventually recovered.
Another conscientious objector, the social activist from Beer-Sheva, Uriel Ferrera, a young Orthodox born in Argentina, who was sentenced to military jail for refusing to join the Israeli army, is still in prison. He was made to stand almost completely naked while his guards laughed at him. Furthermore, the guards ridiculed his faith and humiliated him while he prayed. Later, the IDF prevented Ferrera from receiving letters, emails and faxes in support of his refusal. A little over a week ago, Fererra was prevented from meeting his lawyer because he “did not wear his hat on time.”