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Jailed Israeli conscientious objector starts hunger strike

Udi Segal, who refuses to enlist in the IDF due to its human rights violations in the occupied territories, declares he will go on hunger strike until his release from military prison.

By Yael Marom

Udi Segal (right) arrives with supporters to Tel Hashomer army base. (photo: סרבניות נגד הכיבוש)

Udi Segal (right) arrives with a supporter at Tel Hashomer army base. The sign reads: ‘Refuseniks against the occupation.’  (photo: Refusenik’s Against Enlistment)

Israeli conscientious objector Udi Segal, who announced his refusal to join the Israeli army three months ago, was sentenced to his fifth prison term on Thursday. Prior to his sentencing, Segal announced that he would begin a hunger strike until he is released from the IDF. Segal released a statement explaining the motivation behind his strike:

Three months ago, on my conscription date, I announced that I am unwilling to serve in the army for ideological reasons. Since then I was imprisoned four times. I sat 50 days in prison.

Tomorrow I will be sentenced for the fifth time and sent to prison again. Because of my repeated imprisonment, the continuing deprivation of my freedom, I decided to start a hunger strike until I am released from the army.

I refused because serving in the army contributes to an oppressive system, to which the army is an executive branch. I will not take part in the denial of the liberties of Palestinians.

I will not contribute to a situation in which four million Palestinians live in territories under a regime they did not elect, a regime which is oppressing me too. I consider my refusal as an act of solidarity with all those the Israeli regime hurt, both in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

I went to a Jewish-Arab school for eight years. Towards my conscription date, I realized that if I join the army I am throwing away everything I was taught in school, this whole attempt to create coexistence. Coexistence and occupation are things that can’t go together.

Segal arrived at the Tel Hashomer base in central Israel on Friday morning, where he once again declared his hunger strike, as well as his refusal to serve in the army. Segal was sentenced to 10 days in military jail.

Hunger striking is the only tool of nonviolent protest allowed for prisoners. Segal, like prisoners across the world, has chosen to put his own health at risk as part of his political struggle for freedom.

Over the past several years, the hunger strike has been used by Palestinian prisoners as an act of protest against both administrative detention and prison conditions in Israel. The act of hunger striking presents a serious challenge to the Israel Prison Service and the state itself. Over the past year, the government sought to pass a law that would allow the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, which goes against the stance of the Israel Medical Association. The proposed law ignited controversy, but has disappeared from the agenda for the time being.

Uriel Ferera walking out of military jail after serving his first sentence. (photo: Ruty Ferera)

Uriel Ferera walking out of military jail after serving his first sentence. (photo: Ruty Ferera)

Segal is not the only conscientious objector in military jail. Uriel Ferera, who refused to serve due to the occupation and the discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, is currently serving his ninth sentence in military prison.

Yael Marom is an editor at Local Call. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
WATCH: Israeli teen refuses to serve in army, likely to face jail time
‘God can’t hear you’: Orthodox draft refuser’s first night in prison
Druze conscientious objector hospitalized with liver infection

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    COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn8

      Apparently what they teach them at Jewish-Arab schools is to refuse to carry out one’s national obligations on the premise that it doesn’t match his political desires. Sad that reality disappoints idealists.

      By my calculation he should be in jail for an additional 1045 days so as to match the time contribution by his fellow citizens who actually do serve in the army. I wish him the best of luck with his diet.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        So should Iranians who refuse the draft also have to do time in Evin Prison?

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn8

          Evin prison is famous for torturing people, but yes, Iranians that refuse to do their obligatory military service should serve jail time in a decent prison. It is called the rule of law.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            I think the fact that you think people should be punished for refusing to serve in the military is in and of itself an excellent argument for banning drafts, everywhere. They are a ploy by the state to drill uncritical loyalty into people at a young age.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Ray, I come at this from the opposite direction, at least as far as the USA is concerned. I think democracies need universal military combat troop service without exceptions, or the bar for exceptions should be extremely high and monitored by an independent task force. And that the front line combat divisions should have quotas based on population statistics that they have to meet for various socioeconomic status brackets. That is, the elite’s sons and daughters need to be in the front line, the first wave. The 1% should have as many of their children in the front lines, proportionately, as the bottom 50%. This is the only real check on old men needlessly sending young men to die. And on blithering idiots like GWB. I guarantee you that had Bush had his two daughters in the ground troops that would be going into Iraq in the first wave, and had Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Abrams and Bill Kristol similarly had their sons and daughters at risk, these chickenhawks would have thought far longer about just how necessary it was “to get Saddam.” Far longer and harder. It would never have happened. And America and the world would have been spared the idiocy that was the Iraq war, an idiotic mess Obama and everyone else is still thanklessly burdened with cleaning up, seemingly forever. Obama has many faults but at least he had the good sense not to let Netanyahu and his Republican pals goad him into bombing Iran.

            Reply to Comment
          • Benito Mussolini

            All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Tomer

      nsttnocontentcomment

      Reply to Comment
    3. Brian

      An impressively strong and brave young man. It’s so easy to be a follower of Naftali Bennet and Miri Regev. It’s very hard to do what this young man is doing. He is great.

      Reply to Comment
      • Concur.

        Reply to Comment
    4. bar

      They should bring soldiers on leave to have barbeque picnics around him.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Eis-woman, it would interesting to see your coarse, sadistic scheme put into action and broadcast on Channel 2. Reality TV. That would really show the world the democratic, ethical paragon that is your version of Israel now wouldn’t it? But I think what you have in mind is secret torture of this young man, don’t you? Tell me, since it’s the beginning of the month, do you cycle from Bar to Bor to Eis every month on schedule or only when you’ve done enough shamefulness in one character that you don’t care to show your “face” for a while?

        Reply to Comment
        • bar

          Sorry, not Els. I am however, Bar and Bor. Also, Bir and Bra. See a connection?

          If you think the barbecue idea is “sadistic,” you might want to do a google search for Jian Ghomeshi or, um, “ISIS sex slaves.”

          I think steak and lamb would be excellent for barbecue. Imagine the smell of the cooking meat wafting toward Udi Segal’s nostrils. Yummy!

          Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            Why stop there? Why not put out cigarettes on his back, or rip his fingernails out with pliers, flog the soles of his feet with rubber hoses.

            If you have any objections, don’t worry: it’s Not As Bad As ISIS (TM). Which I guess is Israel’s new litmus test for whether something is immoral or not.

            Reply to Comment
          • bar

            Ah yes, of course, because having a barbecue near a person choosing to have a hunger strike is torture. Brilliant.

            Besides, I compared Israel to Jian Ghomeshi but you want to focus just on ISIS. There are some Yazidi women who would like to have a word with you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            You can feel the seething hatred for this brave young man, this superior person. This is what you’ve come to, Bor.

            Reply to Comment
          • Fear and hatred are 2 sides of the same coin. There’s a lot of fear here.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Marnie: Very true. Good point. What’s needed is a leader. A leader who can realistically combat fear and promote realism, clear-eyed thinking. Instead we have the fear-monger par excellence: Binyamin Netanyahu.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            You also compared it to “ISIS sex slaves,” my point still stands.

            It may not be illegal to have a bbq next to a hunger striker, but I think it’s petty and childishly sadistic.

            I doubt those Yazidi women (or most victims of torture) would approve of your cynical use of their plight to justify your “lesser” human rights/decency violations.

            Reply to Comment
          • “I doubt those Yazidi women (or most victims of torture) would approve of your cynical use of their plight to justify your “lesser” human rights/decency violations.”

            You hit the ol’ nail on the head Ray.

            Reply to Comment
    5. “Segal is not the only conscientious objector in military jail. Uriel Ferera, who refused to serve due to the occupation and the discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, is currently serving his ninth sentence in military prison.”

      You are brave men of conscience and there are many who applaud your decision. Stay strong and be of good faith –

      Reply to Comment
    6. bar

      Let’s review, shall we?

      I make a joke about how barbecue would be a fun event for this young man.

      Somebody compares that to torture.

      Another speak of my supposed hatred of this person.

      A third mentions deep fear.

      Another tries to turn the lecture into how this is sadist and when it’s pointed out that sadism is what he’d find with Ghomeshi or ISIS, I then get lectured about how I’m being cynical. The person saying this, of course, being the one who compared the barbecue to sadism.

      Maybe it’s time to leave 972 permanently? It appears that you folks can’t even get respectable comments to support your articles.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        No worries. His prison guards have already commenced the sadism on schedule. They got you covered. Rest easy.

        Reply to Comment
        • bar

          Dude, the idiot couldn’t handle the hunger pangs after two days. After this embarrassment, one wonders whether his “pacifism” was generated by fear of a tough basic training.

          Reply to Comment
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