Israeli conscientious objector sentenced to 20 days in military prison


This article was first published on +972 Magazine on 30 July 2019.

An IDF disciplinary body sentenced 18-year-old Israeli conscientious objector Maya Brand-Feigenbaum to 20 days in military prison on Tuesday over her refusal to serve in the military.

This is the second time Brand-Feigenbaum, from the northern town of Tivon, has been sentenced for refusing to serve since she her conscription date on July 14. Upon completing her sentence, will have spent a total of 27 days behind bars. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

“I refuse to serve in the army because I believe that this is the best and most meaningful way for me to promote my anti-war principles and help put an end to the occupation,” Brand-Feigenbaum wrote in a statement published prior to her first stint in military prison.

“The decades-long control over a nation compromises the security of the State of Israel,” continues the statement. “As a woman who loves this country, whose landscapes and people are a part of me, I cannot take part in maintaining this situation. I am aware that in our reality we need an army to protect us against real threats, but at the same time, there is a need for people who fight for a reality free of war. Anti-war activities will benefit both the country and the world to bring long-term security. Taking action to resolve the conflict and end the occupation will benefit of all residents of the land, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian.”

Prior to her first appearance before the IDF’s conscientious objectors committee, Brand-Feigenbaum received a visit by Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh at her home in Tivon, who called Brand-Feigenbaum and her fellow conscientious objectors a “ray of humanity that lights the way toward ending the occupation and promoting peace.”

Meanwhile, the army has yet to release 20-year-old conscientious objector Roman Levin from military prison, despite a recommendation by the conscientious objector’s committee to do so. Levin has spent over 70 days in military prison. Both Levin and Brand-Feigenbaum are 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.

Levin, 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.

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