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Israeli army sentences conscientious objector to 30 days behind bars

Roman Levin will serve another 30 days in military prison for refusing to continue his military service due to his opposition to the occupation.

By +972 Magazine

Roman Levin arriving at the base which he used to serve at, to announce his refusal to continue serving in the Israeli army.

Roman Levin arriving at the base which he used to serve at, to announce his refusal to continue serving in the Israeli army.

An IDF disciplinary body sentenced Israeli conscientious objector Roman Levin to 30 days in military prison last week for his refusal to continue serving in the military.

Upon completing his current sentence, he will have served a total of 80 days behind bars. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

Levin, 19, 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. He is being 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.

Prior to his imprisonment, Levin published a statement in which he described how his service in the occupied territories affected his political outlook: “When I was recruited, I thought the army serves the interests of Israeli citizens, but after serving in the territories I understood that the army’s actions don’t serve my interests or the interests of workers in Israel, especially after the continued murder of demonstrators at the Gaza fence. The Nation-State Law strengthened that understanding to me. I came to the conclusion that you can’t hold both ends of the rope – to resist occupation, racism and the capitalist order, while serving in a military that preserves these things.”

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    1. Gilad

      No emphathy from me. Military service is a duty. Everybody has the right to criticism but to dodge draft and brag about it is wrong. Also ‘racism and the capitalist order’ is an excuse I would condemn

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        You slander Roman Levin by calling him a draft dodger and a braggart. Roman Levin is among the bravest and strongest of young Israelis. It is the easiest thing for a young Israeli man to go along and get along and join the IDF and reap all the embedded benefits that play out over a lifetime. It is the hardest thing to refuse to serve and reap all the negative personal consequences that play out over a lifetime. Roman Levin is in fact making a sacrifice for which he ought to be given a medal that carries high honor. I regard him with the respect one accords those rare individuals who show the courage most people cannot muster.

        You left out “occupation” from your list of “excuses” acceptable to you. Is this a tacit admission that Roman Levin has a point about the occupation? (God only knows how you separate out racism from the occupation.)

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      Refusal to serve in the IDF or refusal to carry out orders is a long tradition:

      “The pilots’ letter,” published on September 24, 2003, was signed by 27 reserve and active duty pilots.[14] One of the signatories was the famous pilot Brigadier General (res.) Yiftah Spector. The letter was precipitated by the targeted killing of Salah Shehade, leader of Hamas’s militant wing, who was killed, along with 14 others, by a one-ton bomb dropped on his residential building. Pilots decried the large number of civilian casualties caused by Israel’s targeted killings as violating the military’s ethics code.[15] In their letter, the pilots stated:

      We, veteran and active pilots alike, who served and still serve the state of Israel for long weeks every year, are opposed to carrying out attack orders that are illegal and immoral of the type the state of Israel has been conducting in the territories. We, who were raised to love the state of Israel and contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in Air Force attacks on civilian population centers. We, for whom the Israel Defense Forces and the Air Force are an inalienable part of ourselves, refuse to continue to harm innocent civilians. These actions are illegal and immoral, and are a direct result of the ongoing occupation which is corrupting all of Israeli society. Perpetuation of the occupation is fatally harming the security of the state of Israel and its moral strength.[16] [2]


      Reply to Comment
    3. Arad

      By endingwith “capitalist order” he got me to understand that he has no idea what he is talking about (not mentioning nothing from the territories part)

      Just another bored person who’s looking for attention and been targeted as a potential tool by the anti-IDF/or radical left wing groups

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Sure, the ‘capitalist order’ stuff seems like boilerplate from clueless young people searching for something to rebel against. But on closer look, many people have made the point that the occupation is an economic engine for some (just like privately run prisons are here in the U.S.) -Israeli economist Shir Hever has made a career examining those issues. In case you missed it:


        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Well, it will make a lot more sense to you when you read the many +972 Magazine articles on illegal Israeli arms sales to murderous dictators, just for example. Then read anything by Israeli economist Shir Hever. There’s nothing like education and nothing like the blissful, comfortable ignorance that it corrects.

        Reply to Comment