Young Activist Sentenced to Jail for Refusing Military Service Over Gaza War

A military court has sentenced on Tuesday Tal Mitnick, a young activist, to 30 days in a military jail for refusing mandatory national service. The 18-year-old was tried and sentenced at the Tel Hashomer base near Tel Aviv.

Tal Mitnick (fourth from left)) and comrades demonstrate outside the military base of Tel-Hashomer, Tuesday, December 26, 2023 (Photo Mesarvot)

The anti-occupation group Mesarvot, which accompanied the young objector to the Tel Hashomer base, has stated that Mitnick is refusing military service as a “protest against the war in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories.” Members of Mesarvot, among them Young Communist League of Israel members, came out in support of Mitnick, holding placards with phrases like: “You cannot build heaven with blood,” “An eye for an eye and we all go blind” and “There is no military solution.”

“I believe that slaughter cannot solve slaughter,” Mitnick said. “The criminal attack on Gaza won’t solve the atrocious slaughter that Hamas executed. Violence won’t solve violence. And that is why I refuse.” Mitnick, according to associates, is the first Israeli conscientious objector to be imprisoned since the beginning of the war against Gaza, which commenced on October 7 and has killed over 21,000 Palestinians. 

“This land has a problem – there are two nations with an undeniable connection to this place. But even with all the violence in the world, we could not erase the Palestinian people or their connection to this land, just as the Jewish people or our connection to that same land cannot be erased,” Mitnick wrote in a statement published before he was court-martialed. 

“Before the war, the army guarded settlements, maintained the murderous siege on the Gaza Strip, and upheld the status quo of apartheid and Jewish supremacy in the land between the Jordan and the sea”, Mitnick’s statement said. 

“There is no military solution to a political problem. Therefore, I refuse to enlist in an army that believes that the real problem can be ignored, under a government that only continues the bereavement and pain,” the young Israeli added. Mitnick’s refusal to serve in the military is especially noteworthy given the current climate of heightened chauvinism in Israel.

MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) applauded Tal Mitnik in a post on X, formerly Twitter

“Cheers to Tal Mitnik – the first conscription refuser in this damned war, who was sentenced today to 30 days of imprisonment… only peace will bring a solution, and the objectors have a place of honor in its promotion,” he said.