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Israeli conscientious objector ends hunger strike citing abuse

Prison guards put Udi Segal in isolation and threatened him with trumped up charges, alleges the jailed conscientious objector now serving his fifth term in Israeli military prison.

Udi Segal (right) arrives with supporters to an IDF induction base. The sign says, 'Refuseniks Against the Occupation' (Photo courtesy of 'Refuseniks Against the Occupation'

Udi Segal (right) arrives with supporters to an IDF induction base. The sign says, ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’ (Photo courtesy of ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’

Israeli conscientious objector Udi Segal stopped his hunger strike over the weekend, citing what he described as abuse by guards in the Israeli army’s “Prison 6.” Segal began his fifth prison term last Thursday when he once again registered his refusal to serve in the Israeli army for reasons of conscience, declaring a hunger strike to protest his continued and repeated imprisonment.

Since the start of his latest prison term Segal has been subject to degrading treatment by guards which led him to end his hunger strike, according to his attorney, Rawan Eghbariah of ‘New Profile.’ According to Eghbariah, Segal was placed in an isolation wing of the prison in a cell with broken windows, was not allowed to have any books — including religious books — with him and was forced to keep his hands on his knees anytime he was sitting.

Additionally, Segal was forced to go into the prison yard at least four times over the weekend, Eghbariah said. During one of those times, she added, he was ordered to carry out physically strenuous activities for 40 minutes at a time, and alternatively to stare at a specific point on the wall for 40 minutes. The prison guards told Segal they would prevent him from meeting with his attorney and, “we can do whatever we want to you and put you on trial because there are no witnesses.” The guards also told Segal that he is harming his family, according to his attorney.

Segal decided to stop his hunger strike on Saturday. He told his attorney, Eghbariah, that he did so because of the abuse he suffered and because “it turned into a power struggle, and I’m not interested in proving my strength or my ‘masculinity,’ in their language — that is the essence of my refusal.”

In a statement published last Thursday, Segal wrote, “I am not willing to participate in the denial of Palestinians’ freedom. I will not contribute to a situation in which four million Palestinians live in territories under a regime they did not elect.”

Segal’s case is not the first report of Israeli military prison guards abusing inmates in the isolation wing of Prison 6. Ultra-Orthodox conscientious objector Uriel Ferera, who at the start of his prison term refused to wear an army uniform, reported degrading treatment from prison guards. More recently, objector Omar Sa’ad suffered in prison, where he became sick and, according to him, was not provided medical care until his condition worsened to the point that he required hospitalization. Following that incident he was released from the military.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office issued the following response: “The soldier was processed [into] Prison Base 396 on October 30, 2014, for [being AWOL]. The soldier is not hunger striking and is being cared for by the prison base’s staff. Accordingly, the soldier was in contact with his parents and his attorney.”

This article was first published on +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

‘God can’t hear you’: Orthodox draft refuser’s first night in prison
Jailed Israeli conscientious objector starts hunger strike
IDF to release conscientious objector after 177 days in prison

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    1. Richard

      Kid shouldn’t have said he’d do a hunger strike in the first place. The whole point is defying a system that’s treating you unfairly. If it treats you worse, that’s supposed to be be more of a reason to strike, not less.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        He’s not made out of steel, you know. Everybody has their limits, not everybody knows their limits.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          +972 reported this two days ago…so clearly he wasn’t prepared to do any kind of hunger strike. If you don’t know your limit is 2 days then you’re being a silly goose to start a hunger strike.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            You may have heard this before, but hindsight is always 20/20.

            Reply to Comment
    2. bar

      This was brilliant on the part of 972mag. They vilified Israel going into the supposed hunger strike and then they vilified Israel again as he gave up after the hunger pangs got to him.

      Tomorrow, we’ll get an article about an Israeli who has decided to leave Israel because of the occupation, but then a couple of days later decides not to leave because he’s got to fight the occupation.

      This site is EU money well spent.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “This site is EU money well spent.”

        Any site that makes rightists and hasbarists like you angry is money well-spent in my opinion.

        Reply to Comment
        • bar

          I’m neither a rightist nor a hasbarist. However, I’m glad that you think that other countries should seek to influence Israel’s democracy. That makes a great deal of sense and shows how deeply you respect democracy.

          Reply to Comment
          • Josh

            I’m glad that you rightist zionists never influence democracy in other countries.
            How many will be elected in midterms today that have not their head stuck deep in AIPAC’s ass?

            Reply to Comment
          • bar

            I’m neither a rightist nor an election influencer, but if the distinction between an American lobbying to influence his American representatives regarding American policies vs. a European government seeking to influence a foreign democracy’s policies (and international status, by the way) is lost on you, perhaps it’s because you’re blinded by your disrespect for Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Josh

            American lobbying paid by Israel, to influence American policies to give Israel whatever they want, you imbecible fool.

            Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        This story also reminds me of the guy in Berlin who advocated Israelis leave Israel for lower cost of living in Berlin. Now he has moved back to Israel.

        Reply to Comment
    3. ‘Pudding Man’ who left Israel for Germany reveals his identity

      By Anthony Faiola October 17 

      BERLIN — Pudding Man is unmasked! He is none other than 25-year-old mobile app designer Naor Narkis.

      And if you don’t know who pudding man is, you clearly don’t live in Israel or Germany.

      Narkis – whose revealed his name for the first time to The Washington Post – sparked an uproar over the past three weeks after taking to the Internet to share his decision to leave behind the high cost of Tel Aviv and follow a host of young Israelis emigrating to cheap and shabby-chic Berlin. Despite the shadow of the Holocaust here, he encouraged more of his countrymen to do the same — anonymously mounting a Facebook page on Sept. 29 titled Olim Le Berlin. Even the name itself — playing on a Hebrew word commonly used to encourage immigration to Israel — stirred passions.

      But his page really went viral – and became part of the national debate – after he posted a shopping receipt, including a local version of a beloved Israeli chocolate dessert known as Milky. He bragged of buying a far more ample portion than the typical serving size in Israel for roughly one-third the price. Soon, talk began of a “Milky Revolution” – or an outflow of young Israelis who could find economic solace in the symbolically important, and undeniably cheap, former capital of Nazi Germany.

      Almost immediately, the Tel Aviv native became a folk hero to some, and an anti-Zionist villain to others. Those falling in the latter camp include a range of media commentators, politicians and Holocaust survivors who railed against the unknown pudding man. Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir told the Jerusalem Post: “I pity the Israelis who no longer remember the Holocaust and abandoned Israel for a pudding.”

      In response to the “milky” debate, Israel’s main discount supermarket chain, Rami Levy, put the chocolate puddings on sale, although in reality most other goods remain pricey.

      In the summer of 2011, Israel saw the biggest protests it had ever witnessed when hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to decry the high cost of living in their country. The mass demonstrations, which took issue with high housing prices and the cost of everyday consumer goods, threatened to down Netanyahu’s government at the time. Since then, however, and despite promises by various leaders to tackle the high cost of living, little has changed on the ground.

      In Germany, meanwhile, Narkis has become an anonymous phenom, with the Bild Tabloid declaring, “Because of chocolate pudding – a Berlin-revolution in Israel.” Spiegel Online declared Berlin “the pudding paradise!”

      Sitting at a cafe in Berlin’s fashionable Mitte neighborhood Friday, Narkis, a slightly built Tel Aviv native who spent six years in the Israeli army, said he was initially shocked by the uproar. He received death threats via his Facebook account, he said, though in retrospect he does not “take them seriously.” He said he decided to remain anonymous to keep the focus on his message –

      Israel is too expensive for young people, and if that doesn’t change, it will lose a generation of us who will move away.” He was unmasking himself now, he said, to start promoting his message publicly.

      Narkis arrived in Berlin five months ago, he said, after first trying his hand in Paris. It seemed initially like a logical choice. His mother’s parents immigrated to Israel from France, and he speaks fluent French. But, he said, besides the high cost of Paris, a virulent strain of anti-Semitism there drove him away after just a few months.

      “There are people there at protests yelling ‘Jews, out of France,’ ” he said.

      By contrast, he said he found in Berlin an atmosphere wholly welcoming to Israelis.

      “I was always curious about Germany because I wanted to understand a society that almost exterminated my people,” he said. But, he noted, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had recently led a major rally against anti-Semitism. And, on the streets of Berlin these days, he said, “you find the lowest level of anti-Semitism in Europe. I think young Germans and young Israelis share a lot in common. We both grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. And in that sense, we understand each other.”

      This guy (along with other israelis) still lives in Berlin.

      Reply to Comment
        • Utemia

          I read that too, but one has to wonder about the pressure that was likely piled upon him (and maybe his family) behind the scenes after he revealed his identity to fascilitate this 180° change of heart.

          It really smacks of some sort of coercion in my oppinion.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      By most definitions what the guards did is torture, by American definitions it is “cruel and unusual punishment.”

      The worst part? These prison guards are themselves 18-19 year old conscripts commanded to do degrading things to fellow kids by middle aged men with fat bellies. What a wonderful country

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        “By most definitions what the guards did is torture, by American definitions it is “cruel and unusual punishment.””

        Wrong, as usual.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Well there’s minority of people in israel who support this way.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Utemia

      Maybe it is as you say. Economic pressure, being homesick and a big flop would still constitute significant pressure nontheless, and I wouldn’t discount a possibility for ostracism and a lot of criticism for lauding Berlin of all places.

      It’s still a more interesting story with a conspiracy.. and more befitting for Jews, who – everybody knows this – are conspiring to take over the world. (I am joking, just in case it isn’t clear)

      Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn8

      My comments usually get stuck in moderation for a day or two. As of the moment that I write this I can’t see my comment here. How is it that you managed to respond to what I wrote before it appeared on the site?

      He definitely got a lot of criticism for lauding Berlin or more precisely for calling for hundreds of thousands of Israelis to move to Berlin. He chose to express himself publicly and he should expect responses for his opinions. Freedom of speech applies as much to one’s own position as it does to those that criticise it.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Utemia

      My comments usually get stuck in moderation for a day or two. As of the moment that I write this I can’t see my comment here. How is it that you managed to respond to what I wrote before it appeared on the site?

      It was visible yesterday, but now has disappeared again. Weird.. maybe a server issue or something.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Kolumn8

      Sometimes my responses don’t even show up and I am used to that by now. Freedom of speech 972mag style… That it would show up and then get removed is a new phenomenon.

      Reply to Comment
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