Young Israeli man sentenced to 30 days in jail for refusing military service over Gaza war
An Israeli military court has sentenced Tal Mitnick, a young Israeli man, 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, according to a statement issued by a group of supporters.
Military service in Israel is compulsory, and many Israelis view it as part of their national identity.
The anti-occupation group Mesarvot, which accompanied the young objector to the Tel Hashomer base, has stated that Tal is refusing military service as a "protest against the war in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of Palestine".
Mitnick, according to associates, is the first Israeli conscientious objector to be imprisoned since the beginning of Israel's 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", Tal wrote in a statement before he was court-martialled.
Mitnick's refusal to serve in the military is especially noteworthy given the current climate of heightened nationalism in Israel.
The Mesarvot group was established in 2015 as a movement of Israelis opposed to Israel's occupation of Palestine. However, calls to refuse military service in the Israeli army were made as early as 2002.
"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.
יישר כוח לטל מיטניק - סרבן הגיוס הראשון במלחמה הארורה הזו, שנשפט היום ל-30 ימי מחבוש. וכך אמר: "אין פיתרון צבאי לבעיה פוליטית. ולכן, אני מסרב להתגייס לצבא שמאמין שאפשר להתעלם מהבעיה האמיתית, תחת ממשלה שרק ממשיכה את השכול והכאב.״— Ofer Cassif עופר כסיף عوفر كسيف (@ofercass) December 26, 2023
רק שלום יביא פיתרון, ולסרבנים מקום של כבוד בקידומו pic.twitter.com/6Ni0xdREDV
Ofer Cassif, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the leftist Hadash movement, 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 honour in its promotion," he said.
Israel requires every Israeli citizen over the age of 18 who is Jewish, Druze or Circassian to serve in the Israeli army. Palestinian Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel and Orthodox Jewish religious students are exempt from compulsory military service.
Upon enlisting, men are expected to serve for a minimum of 32 months, while women are expected to serve for a minimum of 24 months.
Haredi Jews, who make up around 13 percent of the Israeli population, reject military service because they believe dedicating time to studying the Torah is more important than serving in the army.
Furthermore, they believe segregation between men and women in the military is not sufficiently maintained, and therefore, it corrupts the morals of ultra-orthodox men.
Israel has drafted a record 300,000 reservists in its response to the surprise Hamas attack from Gaza on October 7.