Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc has just been imprisoned - for the fifth time. 19-years-old, from Haifa, Natan Blanc declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli Army for the fifth time on 21st January. He was sentenced to 20 days' imprisonment for his refusal.
His first three prison sentences were 10, 20, 14 and 14 days long respectively.
In his refusal declaration Natan Blanc wrote:
I began thinking about refusing to conscripted into the Israeli Army during the “Cast Lead” operation in 2008. The wave of aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect were the primary trigger for my refusal. Today, after four years full of terror, without a political process [towards peace negotiations], and without quiet in Gaza and Sderot, it is clear that the Netanyahu Government, like that of his predecessor Olmert, is not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it. From their point of view, there is nothing wrong with our initiating a “Cast Lead 2″ operation every three or four years (and then 3, 4,5 and 6): we will talk of deterrence, we will kill some terrorist, we will lose some civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a new generation full of hatred on both sides.
As representatives of the people, members of the cabinet have no duty to present their vision for the futures of the country, and they can continue with this bloody cycle, with no end in sight. But we, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.”
You can read the full declaration here.
Repeated imprisonment is a violation of international legal standards. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary, and therefore it constitutes a violation of 14 par 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Israel is a signatory.
Natan Blanc refuses to enlist in the Israeli Army based on beliefs and conscience. He claims his human right to conscientious objection, as guaranteed by Article 18 of the ICCPR. In a decision from January 2007, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR.
Natan's father has told us that letters of support would be appreciated. You can send them to:
Israel Defence Forces
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send them your letters of support and encouragement via e-mail to Natan at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will get them when he next leaves prison.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter to Israel's Minister of Defence Ehud Barak can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/21079.
A list of Israel's embassies abroad can be found here.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objector Natan Blanc, and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International