‘The price I paid is small compared to the price millions of Palestinians have been paying for 50 years,’ says Alon, who was imprisoned for refusing to take part in the occupation.
By Yael Marom
After 130 days in military prison, the Israeli army on Wednesday released conscientious objector Tamar Alon from mandatory service. Alon served six terms in military prison for her refusal to be conscripted, which she said would have contributed to the oppression of the Palestinian people. She had expressed her willingness to instead perform civilian national service, an alternative the army rejected.
“The price I paid is small compared to the price millions of Palestinians have been paying for 50 years, whose basic rights are violated on a daily basis and whose freedom has yet to be returned to them like mine was returned to me,” Alon said upon being released from prison and military service.
“I will continue from within civil society to struggle for a just society and ending the occupation,” she continued. “I wish my friends and sisters still in military prison, among them Atalya Ben-Abba, a happy Passover and that they are released from prison quickly.”
Member of Knesset Zehava Galon intervened to secure Tamar Alon’s freedom from military prison. During a visit with Alon in military prison last week, the first time a Meretz MK has visited an imprisoned conscientious objector, the member of Knesset asked the prison commander to move up the date of the young woman’s hearing with a special committee that decides whether conscripts are “compatible” for army service.
Alon had her hearing on Sunday. Although the committee voted not to release her from military service, a higher ranking officer nevertheless ordered her release from on the grounds of “incompatibility and especially bad behavior” — as is customary in the military following a lengthy imprisonment. A year ago, conscientious objector Tair Kaminer was released from prison after 155 days on the same grounds.
Last month, for the first time in 13 years, the Israeli army recognized refusal to serve in the occupation as conscientious objection. In that decision, Tamar Ze’evi was released from military service after 118 days in prison. The exact same committee refused to grant Tamar Alon conscientious objector status at the time, however, claiming that her refusal was not based solely in personal considerations — but was also an act of civil disobedience.
Atalya Ben-Abba, who has spent over 50 days in prison so far, is expected to declare her refusal to serve in the army again in the coming days, and be sentenced to an additional time in prison.
A number of conscientious objectors spent time in Israel military prison over the past year for their refusal to take part in the occupation. Additionally, last fall, Israeli military reservists of Ethiopian descent published a letter refusing to perform their mandatory reserve duty until police violence and institutional discrimination against their community is addressed. Other refusers have evaded military service in other ways without public declarations and prison sentences.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.