Two Israelis jailed for refusing military conscription
Two Israelis were jailed on Tuesday for refusing a call up to the Israeli army.
Shahar Perets and Eran Aviv were each sentenced to 10 days in a military prison for refusing conscription, which is compulsory in Israel.
"I refuse to take part in a racist violent system that inflicts pain on Palestinians every day of their lives," wrote Perets in an open letter published by the Refuser Solidarity Network.
"The military system that has been serving the occupation for years is now shutting down any possibility for Palestinians to move freely while at the same time restricting access to clean water or to proper health care."
On Tuesday, Perets entered prison, the fourth time that Aviv has been handed jail time.
Perets and Aviv were accompanied to their hearings by dozens of supporters, including Joint List MK Ofer Cassif.
Perets, 18, who hails from the town of Kfar Yona, had previously made her intentions on the matter clear in an open letter signed in January.
In June, she put her name to another open letter demanding that Israel halt plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Her decision to refuse conscription was supported by her father, who himself was sentenced four times for refusing to serve in the occupied territories and Lebanon.
"These are her choices, she does what she has decided out of awareness, care, and a desire to make change. I support her and hope that she will succeed in not doing the things that go against her principles and refusing to be what she is not," he told +972 Magazine.
In her recent open letter, Perets explained how her journey began six years ago when she attended a summer camp for Israeli and Palestinian youth.
"There I met Palestinian boys and girls, kids like me, for the first time. They became my friends. I have attended that summer camp every year since," Perets explained.
"Today, 6 years later, I refuse to hurt the people I met that summer and every summer since. I refuse to hurt their families, or the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza."
By refusing to complete conscription, Perets hopes to serve as an example for others, raise awareness about Israeli occupation, and challenge the perceived views of many Israelis.
"I hope it will raise awareness and lead other Israelis to think in a critical way about things many have been regarding as 'natural'. I believe we should all take responsibility not just for ourselves, but for everyone living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea."
Closing her letter, Perets encouraged other Israelis to find out more about life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
"If we put our efforts together and object to the apartheid, oppression, and violence in a nonviolent way, both within Israel and outside of it, maybe we can fix this historic injustice and start building a better life, a safe life, a just life for both the Jewish and Palestinian people," Perets wrote.
In an interview with +972 Magazine, Perets indicated that when she is released from prison and recalled by the Israeli military again, she will refuse.
"I know that that is what I’ll be doing in the coming months. I'll celebrate my 19th birthday in jail," she said.