Conscientious objector Tair Kaminer is being held in an Israel army women’s prison for refusing to take part in the occupation.
Text by Haggai Matar
Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Roughly 80 left-wing activists protested in support of jailed conscientious objector Tair Kaminer outside the IDF’s Prison 400 on Saturday.
Two weeks ago Kaminer informed the army that she is refusing to serve because of the ongoing military occupation, and was sentenced to 20 days in the women’s military prison. Kaminer is expected to be released this coming weekend, after which she will once again likely refuse to serve and be sentenced to another period in prison.
Two other young Israeli refuseniks are expected to refuse to serve in the coming weeks, the first on January 31.
Outside Prison 400 on Saturday the activists sang, beat drums and used a PA system to ensure the prisoners heard them. They called for Kaminer’s release and all political prisoners, among them Ezra Nawi, Guy Batavia, and Nasser Nawaj’ah — who were arrested in relation to a right-wing hidden camera stunt, two of whom have since been released to house arrest — along with administrative detainees, with an emphasis on Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for some 60 days.
The demonstrators also expressed hopes that everyone in the military prison be released to their homes and families soon. Guards were seen watching the protest from over the prison walls.
Activists from “Yesh Gvul” and “Refusers,” Kaminer’s family and others took part in the solidarity protest.
Kaminer, 19, recently finished a year of national service with the Israeli Scouts (“Tzofim”) in the southern development town of Sderot. There she volunteered with children who suffer from trauma due to multiple wars in Gaza and continual rocket fire on the city. “The children I worked with grew up in the heart of the conflict and have had extremely difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that caused them to feel hatred, which can be understood, especially when it comes from young children,” Kaminer wrote in a statement several days ago.
“Like them, many children who grow up in Gaza or in the West Bank, in an even more difficult environment, learn to hate the other side,” she continues. “They, too, cannot be blamed. When I look at all of these children, and the next generation on both sides and the reality in which they grow up, I see only more trauma and pain. And I say enough! That is why I refuse: so that I do not take an active part in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the injustices that the Palestinian people face under occupation, so that I do not take part in this circle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.”
Kaminer also writes that she aspires to peace, equality, democracy, and security for all people who live in Israel/Palestine, emphasizing the security of those whose security tends to be forgotten — Palestinians and Israeli residents of the western Negev Desert. “They convince us that the army has nothing to do with politics, but serving in the army is a political decision. Military jail frightens me less than our society losing its humanity.”