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Israeli Conscientious Objector Faces Jail for 8th Time for Protesting Palestinians' 'Collective Punishment'

19-year-old cites moral obligation of all Israelis to resist IDF

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Israeli citizen Nathan Blanc, 19, will go to jail for the eighth time in 19 weeks Tuesday morning for refusing to serve in the Israeli army, stating that all Israeli citizens have a "moral duty" to resist the "wave of aggressive militarism" that has swept the country and has subjected the Palestinians to "collective punishment."

IDF Training Course, February 13, 2013 (Photo: IDF via Flickr / Creative Commons License) The Guardian reports Monday:

It is a routine Nathan Blanc knows well. At 9am on Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old will report, as instructed in his draft papers, to a military base near Tel Aviv. There he will state his objection to serving in the Israeli army. Following his refusal to enlist, Blanc expects to be arrested and sentenced to between 10 and 20 days in jail. He will then be taken to Military Prison Number 6 to serve his time. And then, following his release, the cycle will begin over again. [...]

Since the date of his original call-up for military service, Blanc has spent more than 100 days in prison; on one occasion, he was released on a Tuesday and re-imprisoned two days later on a Thursday. [...]

The turning point was Operation Cast Lead, the war in Gaza that began at the end of 2008 and ended three weeks later with a Palestinian death toll of around 1,400. In a statement issued when he was first imprisoned, Blanc said: "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."

Blanc added that the IDF was "not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it."

He told the Guardian that "The war going on in this country for more than 60 years could have ended a long time ago. But both sides are giving into extremists and fundamentalists. The occupation was supposed to be temporary, but now no one speaks of it ending."

Conscription in Israel requires young Israeli men to serve three years and women to serve two years in the army.

Concientous objection is increasingly uncommon in Israel, the Guardian adds:

For some, it's an eagerly-anticipated patriotic duty; for others, a rite of passage; for a few, a difficult moral dilemma. But it is rare for people to refuse on grounds of conscience. Blanc says that since November, he has been the only conscientious objector among the 300-400 inmates in Military Prison Number 6.

Read more from this story here.

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