ISRAEL: Woman CO Hadas Amit sentenced to 14 days imprisonment
Israeli conscientious objector Hadis Amit (ISR14913), a 19 years' old woman CO, was today sentenced to 14 days in prison for refusing to serve. In a letter to the military authorities, announcing her refusal to perform military service, Hadas wrote:
"If I were to be recruited into the army, this would absolutely and in all respects contradict my convictions and my way in life, since violence, killing, nationalism and vandalism are not part of them. I am not willing to wear the uniform of an organisation responsible for killing and destruction, acting in a way detrimental to its environment. Every State, the State of Israel included, should act by peaceful means alone, and even if attached, not to respond with fire. In any situation, Israel's case included, it is wrong to sustain a military force trained for war and killing - this is altogether contrary to the pursuit of peace and coexistence with our neighbours in the Middle East."
Hadas appeared before the military Conscience Committee in November, but was rejected. Hadas reported that during her hearing she was constantly interrupted and had to suffer degrading and disrespectful comments. A member of the committee demonstratively left the room, and two other members were exchanging notes, with her sitting between them, while she was trying to answer questions directed to her.
In a statement made on the eve of imprisonment Hadas wrote:
"I refuse to enlist in the IDF [Israel Defence Forces], as the D of "IDF" symbolises nothing but killing to me. Who is it that decided that I am not seeking peace, and put me with my back to the wall? I could either lie or pay the price of my principles. It is for morality and justice and the love of humankind that I shall be sitting in prison."
Since early 2005, women COs in Israel are referred to the same internal military Conscience Committee as male COs (despite official legal recognition of women's right to CO), and there is no right of appeal on the Committee's decisions. Accumulating evidence strongly suggests that the military Conscience Committee is fundamentally biased against women. It seems difficult for the members of this committee (4 men and one woman; all but one of the men are military career officers) to perceive a woman as a person with principles, with a conscientious stance, and with commitment to this stance. As a result (although official figures are not released), the committee rejects a far higher percentage of applications by women than by men, and many of the women applicants describe their committee hearings as a degrading experience.
Hadas is due to be released from prison on Friday, 29 December 2006.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Hadas Amit.
Military ID 6175691
Military Prison No. 400
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War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at http://www.wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20061218a.html.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objector Hadas Amit and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
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Mr Amir Peretz
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