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Conscientious objector jailed by Israeli army for third time

Atalya Ben-Abba, 19, has already spent 50 days in prison for refusing to serve in the IDF, and has now been sentenced to a further 30 days.

Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba. (Yona Benstein)

Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba. (Yona Benstein)

Conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba, 19, was on Tuesday sentenced to a third stint in prison after reporting to the Tel Hashomer military induction base and refusing to enlist in the IDF. Ben-Abba will spend 30 days in jail, on top of the 50 days she has already served following her previous two refusals.

On the previous two occasions, Ben-Abba was sentenced along with fellow draft refusers Tamar Ze’evi and Tamar Alon, both of whom were recently released from the military after each serving more than 100 days in jail.

Once she has finished her current jail term, Ben-Abba is expected to be again summoned to the military induction base, where she will continue to refuse to serve in the army and will state her willingness to carry out civilian national service instead.

In March, the army recognized refusal to serve in the occupation as conscientious objection for the first time in 13 years, as it decided to release Tamar Ze’evi after she had spent a total of 118 days in prison.

Several other conscientious objectors refused to enlist in the army last year, including Tair Kaminer and Aidan Katri.

Last fall, hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis announced they would refuse army reserve duty, in protest at police violence and institutional discrimination toward them.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Hundreds of foreign young people, Jewish or not, come every year in Israel to serve in the IDF. And this stupid girl is refusing to do its duty. I am ashamed. The Israeli left is really sick.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        This is Haggai Matar’s explanation for why he refused to serve in the IDF:


        Despite my young age, merely 18, and despite the fact that I do not bear with me memories from Israel’s past, I can wholeheartedly declare that Israel has reached an unprecedented moral low. This extreme deterioration began with ‘Barak’s’ generous offers’, which were but another attempt at forcing a unilateral agreement upon the Palestinian people. Today, militarization and racism among the Jewish population have reached a fascist level. The repression of critical thinking, the total acceptance of the occupation’s crimes, the idolization of the army and the gradual acceptance of the principle of ‘ethnic cleansing’- all these constitute only part of our society’s collapse. To this list one should add the systematic mistreatment of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the hateful violence addressed at peace demonstrators, and the heartless attitude towards the abnormal and the weak. With all these, I refuse to cooperate.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          Jewish leftist sermonizer

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Haggai Matar’s statement is in fact authoritative and profound and morally astute. It is excellent. And the opposite of sermonizing, Halevy. Please defend your charge that you levy that what Matar writes is the product of a “Jewish lefist sermonizer.” Be specific. Spell it out. I am interested in what defense you can mount.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Right wing racist MF.

            Reply to Comment
      • Lopwa

        ¿Por que insulta??? esos son sus argumentos, Cre que su pobre madre se avergonzaria de usted, que violento y raciata, machista es usted

        Reply to Comment
    2. john

      is it the only democracy where you can be jailed 3 times for the same crime?

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB


        In most democracies you can be jailed over and over for committing the same crime especially if its a minor crime. For example in the USA if you repeatedly are drunk and disorderly you can repeatedly jailed. If you repeatedly fail to pay taxes you can repeatedly jailed. If you repeatedly drive without a license or drunk you’ll be repeatedly jailed. Would you prefer Israel treat it as a serious crime and do something like a one time 5 year prison term?

        Reply to Comment
        • john

          if you’re repeatedly drunk n disorderly that’s multiple crimes. she refused to serve in the occupied territories, preferring national service, and was imprisoned 3 times for that refusal.

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            John – thanks for persisting. You shouldn’t have to of course, but some people can’t control their need to be an ass 24/7.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB


            She’s asked for an exemption, was declined and told to enlist. She refused the order. She went to jail. She again failed to enlist. …. That’s multiple offensives. Same as someone who is a tax resister and doesn’t pay taxes in multiple years.

            One can argue about whether this is a good law but multiple prison terms for a repeated offensive isn’t unique to Israel.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Even Arabs and the Druzes are proud to enlist in the IDF. But this Atalya prefers to behave like a traitor.

      Reply to Comment
    4. George Hudes

      Thank you, Atalya, for your brave and principled stand.

      Reply to Comment