Israeli teenagers refuse enlistment over human rights violations by army

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Israeli police officers spray colored water towards ultra Orthodox Jewish men during a protest against their enlistment in the army at the entrance to Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

63 Israeli teenagers have refused to be enlisted in the army due to the human rights violations committed by Israeli forces, Yedioth Ahronoth reported yesterday, the Middle-East Monitor reported.

The twelfth-grade students, in a letter, addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli army Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, wrote that their decision was motivated by “a commitment to the values of peace.”

“The army implements a racist government policy that violates basic human rights and carries out one law for Israelis and another law for Palestinians in the same territory” the letter reads.

In the letter, the students also criticised the Separation Wall, the blockade on the Gaza Strip and illegal settlements in occupied territories, which they claimed “sever the Palestinians from each other in enclaves and strive to prevent territorial continuity”.

“Therefore we have decided not to take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian nation, which has divided human beings into two antagonistic camps. This ‘temporary’ situation has gone on for 50 long years now, and we won’t contribute to it.”

The Israeli army’s attempts to prevent the truth about arrests from being heard was also highlighted in the letter: “The freedom to report and disseminate the information about what goes on is also denied, by journalist detentions and censorship.”

The protesting students have appealed to other high school students to join them in their boycott and refusal to join the army until the end of Israeli occupation in the West Bank. They intend to take to the streets to further their protest call and gain more support.

One of the signatories, twenty-year-old Matan Helman, is currently serving jail time after his refusal to be drafted into the army.

The Israeli army and education ministry, earlier this month, announced plans to boost enrolment after enlistment rates fell and the number of dropouts increased.