Meet Israel’s teenage ‘Refuseniks’, who are refusing to enlist in the army

© Oren Ziv

This summer, six Israeli teenagers openly spoke about their opposition to the country’s compulsory military service. They denounced the "apartheid" system and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. As a result, they have been jailed multiple times. One of them, Evyatar Moshe Rubin, who’s just been released from prison and is awaiting a third sentence, spoke to us.

Evyatar Moshe Rubin, Einat Gerlitz, Nave Shabtay Levin, Shahar Schwartz and Sliman Abu Ruken are all aged between 18 and 19 years old and they’ve each spent several weeks in prison for objecting to Israel’s compulsory military service. Conscientious objectors, commonly nicknamed “refuseniks", are typically tried at the recruitment centre and sentenced to prison terms of between 10 and 21 days.

"Refuseniks" serve their sentences at random times. They are then released for a month, requisitioned and sent back to prison as a result.

'I could no longer support my country’s ethnic cleansing'

Evyatar Moshe Rubin is 19 years old. He was recently released from prison – for the third time – after about 20 days. He has served a total of 47 days in prison since turning 18. Since his most recent release, he has been living with his parents. He is now waiting for his next ‘appeal’, which he intends to once again object.

On September 5, I refused to enlist at the recruitment centre for the third time. I was then sent to a miniature military tribunal. An officer, who acted as the judge, sent me to prison.

"Refuseniks" have been opposing Israel's occupation policy since the country was created in 1948.

Knowing that other activists, both old and young, have taken the same action comforts me.


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