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IDF to release conscientious objector after 177 days in prison

Conscientious objector Natan Blanc will be exempted from military service and allowed to volunteer for civil service after more than half a year in prison. Shortly after Blanc’s family and supporters started a campaign for his release, which included several demonstrations and increased media presence, Blanc was summoned earlier this week to the army’s unsuitability committee for the second time.

As opposed to the previous interview, this time the committee decided to exempt Blanc from service, and on Thursday morning he was informed by prison staff that his current, 10th incarceration (breaking the record for number of times a conscientious objector has been sentenced) will be his last. Blanc had repeatedly demanded conscientious objector status, but was repeatedly denied as his refusal to join the army is based on opposition to Israeli occupation policies rather than all use of violence.

The ‘unsuitability’ clause is often used by the army to exempt occupation refusers after several rounds of imprisonment, as in the case of Blanc (and myself). Blanc, however, was the first Israeli to sit in prison 10 times before being released.

You can read Blanc’s statement on his refusal here.

WATCH: Supporters stage prison vigil for conscientious objector Natan Blanc
Israeli conscientious objector heads to prison for record ninth time
Draft resister sent back to prison: Eight sentences, 130 days
Lesson from Israeli who chose jail, solidarity over segregation
Are Israel’s refusers modern day heroes? 

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    1. Great result. Thanks for the good news.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      2.5 years too early. They should have made him do the full three years in the system.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jrohr

        A moral objection to Israeli occupation policies is still a moral objection. Besides, it takes a lot more courage to say “I don’t want to participate in what I view as an immoral action by the state” than to say “I view violence as immoral”.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          He can object all he wants.. from prison.. for the full three years he is expected to serve for his country.

          Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        If he was an Arab, an Ethiopian, a Druze or even a lowly Mizrahi, you can bet he’d sit in prison until he would forget how to stand (to paraphrase a great line from the gashashim).

        This kid is too white, too ashkenazi, too upper-crust for the IDF to abuse indefinitely.

        He will probably now become a powerful spokesperson for the anti-draft refusenik movement.

        As usual – smart move IDF, smart move.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Actually it is probably the other way around. The white, ashkenazi, upper-crust guy is the one you make an example of. If he was an Ethiopian or a Mizrahi they would probably have marked him as unfit for service after a couple of stints in military prison max or found something else for him to do.

          Reply to Comment
      • Rachel

        Why don’t you do his military service for him, if you feel so strongly that it should be done?

        Reply to Comment
    3. rsgengland

      The IDF required that his commitment to be exempted from military service was genuine.
      This has now been accepted by the IDF.
      If every person that wanted military exemption , asked and received it, there would be major problems.
      No one wants to do conscription to the army, but considering the neighborhood in which Israel lives, there is no other choice.
      With no army, Israel would have been eliminated, and her Jewish population Ethnically Cleansed, years ago.
      Israels enemies know this, and try to exploit this wherever possible.
      That is why there is such a media frenzy over this issue; it makes the anti-Israel brigade drool with ecstasy.

      Reply to Comment
      • As has been pointed out to you on several occasions, people who want to dodge the draft already dodge the draft by getting out on medical or psychological grounds. It’s not that difficult to wangle such an exemption if you really want one. So no, they certainly didn’t keep Natan Blanc in prison for six months as a deterrent to young people who know quite well that it’s possible to get out of army service without needing to check into a prison cell first. Refusal would never be their route of choice. The excuses you keep coming up with for army behaviour do not fit the picture at all.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          No excuses there.
          Every case is different.
          And with the potential changes to the draft laws happening now with the ‘Charedim’, the way the law is applied will change as well.
          If the Charedim are going to be prosecuted for evading the draft, so is everyone else.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Charles

      How many times was Gadi Algazi imprisoned? It might have been as many as Natan. For sure he was imprisoned for longer.

      Reply to Comment