Israeli army sentences conscientious objector to 30 days behind bars

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This article was first published on +972 Magazine on 27 May 2019.

An IDF disciplinary body sentenced Israeli conscientious objector Roman Levin to 30 days in military prison last week for his refusal to continue serving in the military.

Upon completing his current sentence, he will have served a total of 80 days behind bars. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

Levin, 19, from the city of Bat Yam just south of Tel Aviv, immigrated to Israel with a few members of his family from Ukraine when he was 3 years old. He initially believed his service would contribute to society and fulfill his duties as a citizen.

“I refuse to continue my military service,” Levin said. “My refusal is an act of protest against an occupation that has lasted more than 50 years and of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.”

This is the fourth time Levin has been sentenced for refusing to serve in the army. He was previously jailed twice after a year and a half of service in the IDF as a truck driver. He is being 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 at the occupation.

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 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.”

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Related peace activist(s): Roman Levin