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Refusenik sentenced to 20 days in prison on his birthday

Yaniv Mazor was sentenced this morning by his commander to twenty days in prison for refusing to fulfill his reserve service duties. ‘This is an army whose main purpose is the maintenance of the occupation regime imposed on millions of people on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip – and I cannot serve in it,’ said Mazor, who hopes others will join him.

"I hope my actions will inspire others". Yaniv Mazor

"I hope my actions will inspire others". Yaniv Mazor

Yaniv Mazor – a resident of Jerusalem, chief sergeant (res.) in the armed corps, and a tour guide in profession – is celebrating his 31st birthday today. Speaking to +972 on his way to jail, Mazor said the decision to refuse has been building up inside him for the past seven years, growing stronger the more he learned of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. “I regret not having been aware of what the army does when I was enlisted, because the more I know, the clearer the understanding that I cannot serve becomes,” he said.

“I served in an armored unit from 1999 to 2002, spending most of my service in the Jordan Valley, but also deeper in the West Bank during the Second Intifada, inside and outside of a tank, and since then returned for six or seven rounds of reserve service. The decision to refuse is a sort of climax of a personal process I’ve been going through in the past seven, eight years. When you go to school in Israel they don’t really tell you what it is the army does in the occupied territories, and so I entered the army as a typical product of the education system: a good boy, obedient, serving in the occupied territories, and not thinking about it at all. Especially not thinking. Over the past few years I’ve been using my head, asking myself what the things we do over there mean. This led me at first to just avoid service, but after getting some perspective in a year long trip abroad I decided it was time to stop faking it.”

Grafiti on a wall in Hebron with the prayer of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (Yaniv Mazor)

Grafiti on a wall in Hebron with the prayer of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (Yaniv Mazor)

After being summoned to a training session with his unit, Mazor informed his commanding officer that he could not serve any more. The commander was sympathetic, he says, but said the decision to exempt him from service was not his to make, and transferred the request upward in the chain of command. On Wednesday, Mazor received a suspended sentence of 15 days in prison, and sent back home. “The battalion commander thought of it as an opportunity for me to take the weekend and think it over. It was actually quite nice because it gave me a chance to go with Breaking the Silence on a tour of Hebron on Friday, and to South Mount Hebron with Ta’ayush on Saturday, and that only strengthened my decision.

“Today I refused again, and the commander said he would like to find me non-combatant tasks. I told him that for me a soldier-teacher, a driver or an elite unit fighter – they’re all the same, and all represent the army. He then passed me on to the brigade commander, who sentenced me to 20 days inside. I told him that I was being locked up for my beliefs and that I hope we don’t meet again in similar circumstances, but he said he’ll keep on summoning me for service.

“Although this is my first time in prison I feel totally fine with it. I feel at peace with myself. My decision stems from what I saw in the occupied territories, things that made me realize I can no longer be part of the army. I can only hope that my action will inspire others who are now facing the draft or a reserve service and are still unsure what to do.”

Soldiers watching Palestinian farmers during an action in South Mount Hebron (Yaniv Mazor)

Soldiers watching Palestinian farmers during an action in South Mount Hebron (Yaniv Mazor)

In recent months several young Israelis refused to enlist in a joint action against the occupation. One of them, Noam Gur, was jailed for about a month, and then released on a mental clause. Mazor will be out of prison at the end of the month, and it is yet unknown whether he will be summoned to return to his unit immediately – and then imprisoned again – or not.

Read also:

Conscientious objector refusing to serve in IDF sentenced to prison

Four young Israelis refuse army draft in new refusenik wave

J’accuse: Israeli youth headed to prison for refusing the draft

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Tim

      Doing the right thing is often difficult, respect to you Yaniv.

      Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      He doesn’t need to be wished courage because he already has that. But he might need fortitude, so I’ll wish him that.
      .
      “When you go to school in Israel they don’t really tell you what it is the army does in the occupied territories, and so I entered the army as a typical product of the education system: a good boy, obedient, serving in the occupied territories, and not thinking about it at all.”
      .
      I wish someone would explain how that works. What does an education system that produces people who don’t think at all consist of?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Rehmat

      “I was a tank commander in Israeli military. I spent one month in jail because I refused to deploy to Gaza in 2002. I felt it was my duty to refuse clearly illegal orders and I think Israeli occupation practices are clearly illegal,” – Michael Weksler, an Israeli Military Refusenik.

      http://rehmat1.com/2009/01/02/gaza-who-fires-the-shots/

      Reply to Comment
    4. Alon

      Solidarity from London

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jack

      Yaniv, you and other “refuseniks” deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. I wish you all luck.

      Reply to Comment
    6. A tour guide by profession. He knows the marvels of his land. He does an act of resolved love which I could never do.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Guy

      If he’s for real, then he’s stupid.
      He has no idea what he’s talking about.

      Guy.

      Reply to Comment
    8. GOOD GUY

      If he’s for real, then he knows the true meaning of understanding the truth that lies hidden behind propaganda.

      My Jewish brothers wake up. Zionism is an evil, political movement that is trying to come under the guise of the religion that the Prophet Moses (PBUH) brought to man, to worship one true God.

      God Bless his soul.
      Good Guy

      Reply to Comment
    9. Nina

      Good for you then !
      In fact, you should further and come to France where you belong.
      Maybe from here, you’ll inderstand why this army no matter what you say we are proud of it.
      Il you feel free to go here and there in Israel, ask yourself how you can do it.

      Shame on you !

      Reply to Comment
    10. alina

      Thank you to you YANIV MAZOR and to others who are Like you
      Stay in this Way

      Reply to Comment
    11. MICHAEL

      SOLIDARITY from USA

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jenny

      that is the right thing to do! I have recently come back from a month in the West Bank and I see that the military occupation is untenable and unjustifiable. I hope many many soldiers follow your example.
      in solidarity, J

      Reply to Comment

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