This article was originally published on +972 Magazine on 21 August.
After 82 days in solitary confinement, the Israeli army released conscientious objector Roman Levin from military prison last week. Levin, who refused to continue serving in the IDF over its occupation policies, was discharged by an army committee for “poor and severe behavior.”
Levin was first jailed in February when he declared his refusal to continue his service after spending a year and a half as a driver in the army. He was sentenced four consecutive times during his time in the army, spending most of his time behind bars in solitary confinement due to his refusal to wear a prison uniform.
Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.
Levin is supported by Mesarvot — Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest of the occupation.
Levin, from the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, immigrated to Israel with several members of his family from Ukraine when he was three years old. He says that he initially believed his service would contribute to society and help him fulfill his duties as a citizen.
Prior to his imprisonment, Levin published a statement in which he described how his service in the occupied territories affected his political outlook: “When I was recruited, I thought the army serves the interests of Israeli citizens, but after serving in the territories I understood that the army’s actions don’t serve my interests or the interests of workers in Israel, especially after the continued murder of demonstrators at the Gaza fence. The Jewish Nation-State Law strengthened that understanding to me. I came to the conclusion that you can’t hold both ends of the rope – to resist occupation, racism and the capitalist order, while serving in a military that preserves these things.”