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63 teenagers refuse to join Israel army over human rights violations

Israeli forces attack Palestinians during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in Nablus, West Bank on 25 August 2017 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Some 63 Israeli teenagers from across the country are refusing to be enlisted into the army due to the perpetual human rights violations committed by Israeli forces, Yedioth Ahronoth reported yesterday.

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, the twelfth grade students 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 read.

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 high schoolers also highlighted the way in which the Israeli army prevented the truth about arrests from being heard: “The freedom to report and disseminate the information about what goes on is also denied, by journalist detentions and censorship.”

Read: Israel arrested 620 Palestinians since Trump’s move on Jerusalem

The teenagers also call on other high school students to join them in their boycott and refusal to join the army until the occupation of the West Bank is ended. They plan to take to the streets to further their call and gain more support.

Twenty-year-old Matan Helman, who is among the signatories, is currently serving jail time after his refusal to be drafted into the army.

Earlier this month, the Israeli army and the education ministry announced that they were working on a plan to boost enrolment, after enlistment rates fell and the number of dropouts increased.

The subject of conscription is a controversial one in Israel, with no allowance being made for conscientious objectors. In October, Israel jailed Noa Gur Golan for the fourth time, at the end of which she will have served 104 days, for refusing to take part in the occupation.

This year also witnessed ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews protesting a new law that would see them serve in the army despite their religious beliefs previously excusing them from service.

Read: Jailed Palestinian child returns to family

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