A group of Israeli youth refusing to serve in army oppose bombing of Gaza, occupation of Palestine
While speaking to Anadolu in a park near Tel Aviv, young Jewish people confronted verbally, physically by another group of fanatical war supporters
In Israel, a minority of the society composed of Jewish youths who refuse to serve in the military, even at the risk of imprisonment, are against the occupation of Palestinian lands and the bombing of civilians in Gaza.
The mandatory military service in Israel lasts for 32 months for males who reach the age of 18 and 24 months for females. Anyone who refuses to serve may face imprisonment of up to 200 days and societal pressure.
Nevertheless, there are Jewish youths who refuse to enlist in the Israeli army on the grounds that it oppresses Palestinians.
One of them is 18-year-old Tal Mitnick. Mitnick told Anadolu that he holds the belief that the Israeli army oppresses Palestinians in the Bat Yam area in southern Tel Aviv.
Mitnick, who just graduated from high school, said he refused to join the military.
“I believe that the Israeli army is an operational arm of Jewish exclusivism in this region. (This army) relies on the oppression of the Palestinian people, and I refuse to be a part of this oppression. Instead, I continue with human rights activism,” he said.
Mitnick said that while those sharing his beliefs are in the minority in Israel, he also indicated that this situation is gradually starting to shift.
The Jewish youth described Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7 as "horrendous" and stated that people have turned their anger over this attack into a sense of revenge.
Mitnick, on the other hand, added that he prefers to turn this into a feeling of "desiring more security for everyone" rather than revenge.
Mitnick described the first day of Israel's attack on Gaza as a "defensive war.”
“However, it later turned into a war of aggression against civilians in Gaza. I refuse to agree with the idea that killing civilians in Gaza would provide security for anyone. It doesn't bring security to anyone, neither to the people of Gaza nor to the people of Israel. I believe that the only path to security and peace lies in coexistence,” he said.
“Living in a liberal place like Tel Aviv, people understand my situation, and they respect it. One of my best friends is currently fighting in Gaza as a combatant. We both know that we want everyone's safety, but we have different views on how that security can be achieved,” he added.
‘Attempts to Judaize’
Nineteen-year-old Ariel Davidov, who lives in a neighborhood near occupied East Jerusalem, also said that he has been in contact with groups advocating for human rights.
Davidov, witnessing Israeli forces using excessive violence against Palestinians in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem such as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Isawiya, noted that he has also participated in protests against the attempts to Judaize the city.
The Israeli youth explained his reason for refusing to serve in the Israeli military as "not wanting to be a part of immorality and injustice”.
“There has been an ongoing genocide since the beginning of Zionism. It didn't start in 1948 (the year Israel was established) or in 1967 (the year East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza were occupied).
“Prior to that, there was settler colonialism. They wanted to use this land (Palestine) and its people (Palestinians) for their own interests. However, this situation cannot continue like this,” Davidov said.
Davidov mentioned that he was supposed to appear in court on Oct. 16 because he refused to serve in the military.
However, the army contacted him, stating that he was exempt due to "psychological reasons."
"Many of my close friends have refused military service. The group I have been involved with in human rights activism has been calling on everyone to refuse to serve in the Israeli army. This is a major part of my struggle.
“Many of my friends who refused (military service) ended up in jail. These days, they usually get a 150-day prison sentence, whereas before it was 200 days. Some have served 60 days, and others 50. I think it's up to the judge.”
Both Israelis and Palestinians have entered a "new phase of occupation and genocide" since the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, he added.
“The Hamas attack deeply affected me, but I don't think this attack came out of nowhere (without any reason). I see the occupation and the Gaza blockade as the main reasons for it,” Davidov said.
Davidov mentioned that many Israeli human rights activists refrain from advocating for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since they are afraid of the military, police, and people described as "fascists."
He said that many of his friends, who documented videos of Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians to evict them from their land in the occupied West Bank, were beaten by armed settlers.
‘I don't want to serve in a racist army’
Another Jewish young person who refused to serve in the Israeli army, Ella Keidar, expressed her belief that everyone has the right to live freely and well.
“I don't want to serve in an army that enforces the occupation, implements a racist regime, and plays a role in oppressing the Palestinian people in this exploitation project,” Keidar said.
She highlighted her belief that the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is political, not military.
"Like Israelis, Palestinians also deserve freedom. I believe in the possibility of an equal future, which includes the right of return for Palestinians (to the land from which Israel expelled them),” she said.
She mentioned that they generally receive negative reactions from their community but believe this will change in the future, even though it may not happen during the current wartime situation.
Keidar also mentioned that Israelis who refuse military service usually end up in prison unless they have a "valid medical reason."
"I have a friend who served two weeks in jail and others who served a total of 180 days in separate sentences. After a few weeks in jail, they release you, and then they ask, 'Do you want to do military service now?' If you say no, they put you back in jail,” she said.
Intervention by fanatical war supporters
While speaking to Anadolu in a park near Tel Aviv, the young Jewish people were confronted verbally and physically by a group of fanatical Israelis.
The interview was cut short, and the young people had to leave the area due to insults and harassment.
The group that recorded the incident with a mobile phone camera shouted insults, calling them "terrorists" and "Hamas supporters."
*Writing by Esra TekinAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.