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Resistance and Efforts for Peace

Conscientious Objector Likely to be Sent to Prison

Tuesday, April 13 2004 - Conscience does not fear jail; conscience at the supreme court

New Profile - Movement for the Civil-ization of Israeli Society
Press Release
April 4, 2004

On Tuesday 13/4/2004 at 7:30 AM, conscientious objector Daniel Tsal will present himself at the IDF conscription center, refuse to enlist, and most likely be sent to military prison immediately. One and a half hours later, at 9 AM that same morning, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, the hearing of conscientious objector Laura Milo’s appeal will start. Both Laura and Daniel are refusing to serve in the IDF because it is an occupying army. Five of their friends, who are refusing service for the same reasons, have recently been sentenced to one year in prison.

Daniel Tsal informed the minister of defense of his refusal to enlist in the IDF three months ago: he objects to cooperate with an army that controls and oppresses. The army’s “conscience committee”, however, rejected his request to appear before it. He wrote in his letter: “The principles of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ have become void of meaning as a result of the trampling of the rights of about three million people, and more indirectly, due to the ongoing destruction of the foundations on which the State of Israel is supposed to be built... In such historical times, a sane individual must rise up against the system that makes the ongoing oppression possible. I have a moral obligation – not a choice but an obligation – to refuse to participate in the occupation and to struggle against the institutions that cancel such basic human rights. Any sane person, who has not yet been wholly overcome by fear and racism, must by dint of his basic humanity refuse to be part of an occupying and oppressive system such as the IDF has become”.

On Tuesday 13 April Daniel is obliged to appear at the conscription center for enlistment. Instead, he will declare his refusal there. He is likely to pay a price for this. He will be the first CO to follow the five COs – Noam Bahat, Adam Maor, Haggai Matar, Shimri Tsameret and Matan Kaminer – who were recently sentenced to one year in prison for refusing service for similar reasons. Daniel Tsal’s firm decision to give clear and loud expression to his moral stance against serving in the Israeli army, in full awareness of the price he will have to pay for this, proves once more that the voice of conscience cannot be silenced by means of punishment, even not when the price may be heavy.

Daniel will be accompanied to the conscription center and supported by members of New Profile and the Refusers Parents Forum, who will protest and keep a vigil for him.

At 9 AM, the same morning, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, the hearing (case 2383/04) of Laura Milo vs. the minister of defense will open, with judges Eliyahu Matza, Ayala Procacia, and Edmond Levy in session.

The petitioners, Laura Milo, represented by attorneys Gaby Laski and Smadar Ben Natan, and Laura’s father, Daniel Milo, with the support of the New Profile organization, are insisting, through this appeal, on her legal right to be exempted from service in the IDF on grounds of conscience. Laura’s plea was rejected earlier by the army’s “conscience committee” and appeals committee; she presented herself at the IDF conscription center on February 22, 2004, refused to enlist, and was sentenced to 14 days in jail until March 5, 2004. On March 10, 2004, the Supreme Court issued an order to delay further imprisonment until the court ruling.

Israeli law stipulates that every woman who proves that she cannot serve in the army for reasons of conscience is exempted from military service. The army’s “conscience committees” that deal with female COs’ requests to be exempted, are currently working with a criterion by which only pacifists who object to any form of violence, are recognized as conscientious objectors. Laura Milo refuses to serve in the Israeli army because it is an occupying army. Hence her request to be exempted was rejected. In her Supreme Court appeal, Laura will argue that the “conscience committees” have been acting against the law in her case. All female COs, and not only the pacifists among them are legally entitled to exemption, she will claim.

This will be the first time in many years that a female CO appeals to the Supreme Court. This will also be the first time that the Supreme Court deals with a case of full refusal to serve in the IDF on grounds of it being an occupying force. This is therefore a major event in the history of the general struggle of Israel’s refusal movement, and more particularly of women’s refusal, a central component of the refusal movement. As a feminist organization that opposes the militarization of Israeli society, New Profile calls on its members and the public in general to express their support of Laura Milo’s important step by joining the vigil at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

For further details: Ruti Divon (New Profile) 056 - 348393, attorney Gaby Laski 054 - 418988.

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