Protestors held a demonstration outside a military prison in Israel on Saturday, October 30, to demand the release of three military objectors refusing to serve in the state’s army of occupation. Crowds gathered in support of the trio — Eran Aviv (19), Shachar Perez (19) and Communist Party of Israel (CPI) member Orem Feld (29) — at Neve Tzedek prison, near the city of Netanya. Feld, who is the Jerusalem branch secretary of the CPI’s Hadash front, was sentenced to 14 days behind bars earlier this week after refusing to serve in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Oren Feld (second from left, holding a mobile phone in his right hand) brandishes a red flag during a May Day rally in Jerusalem, May 1, 2020. (Photo: Zo Haderech)
Feld had previously been a medic in the Israeli army but claims that he persistently did everything possible to avoid serving in the occupied territories. In August, he was called up for reserve duty, but informed his unit that he would not report. “Before I was initially conscripted into the military, I had neither the strength nor the support to refuse,” he said before his recent imprisonment. “However, now I understand that no matter what role you fill in the Israeli military, it allows the occupation to continue.”
Feld said that his past experience opened his eyes to “the crime of the occupation and the apartheid policy” imposed on the Palestinian people. In an open letter published in the CPI’s Hebrew-language publication Zo Haderech, he wrote that he was not prepared to serve in an army “which uses its tools to control the Palestinian civilian population.” Feld described the occupation as a political choice, accusing the occupying Israeli forces of carrying out war crimes against the Palestinian people. “The truth must be told about the history of this place, about the massacres and deportations that took place in the past and the administrative detentions, the ethnic cleansing and the mass shootings in the present,” he said. “Anyone who truly loves this place, anyone who truly loves the people that live on this land, should hate the occupation, the distortion of history, the plunder of land and the oppression.”
Saturday’s protest was organised by the Yesh Gvul movement and supported by the conscientious objectors support network Mesarvot and the Communist Party of Israel and Hadash.
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths sent a message of solidarity to Feld and his fellow political prisoners, saying their “defiance in the face of incarceration demonstrates a strong civil opposition within Israel to the 54-year-long occupation, and the expansionist policies of its subsequent governments.”