Conscientious objector freed after 150 days in IDF prison

Ofir Averbukh only went public with his refusal to serve in the IDF after 130 days in jail. ‘Despite the difficulties, I am proud of my decision to stand for my principles.’

By +972 Magazine Staff

Ofir Averbukh (Screenshot)
Ofir Averbukh (Screenshot)

After serving 150 days in military prison, the Israeli army released conscientious objector Ofir Averbukh late last week. Averbukh, 18, from Moshav Tzofit, identifies as a pacifist but the army repeatedly refused to recognize him as such. This past week, he was discharged by an IDF medical officer.

Following his release, Averbukh, who opposes the Israeli army’s conduct in the occupied territories, said he is confident that “conscientious objection was the right thing to do.”

“Despite the difficulties I faced on the way,” he continued, “I am proud of my decision to stand for my principles. I call on all teenagers who face the draft to do away with all the prejudices we are educated on, and that they look at the violent situation in our region for what it is, and ask themselves whether they are willing to take responsibility for it.”

Averbukh announced his refusal to serve in the army in May of this year but only after serving 130 days in prison did he decide to go public with his decision. In his declaration, he wrote that his refusal is not a way to evade responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of those who live in this country:

It is clear to me, just as it is to my fellow conscientious objectors, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not solve itself…We conscientious objectors understand that for the sake of our security and that of the next generations we will need to cease feeding the circle of violence that we were born into, which we have learned to take for granted. In order to stop the violence we need to start by saying no: no to violence, no to bloodletting, no to the cycle of violence that controls our life.

Earlier this week, the army released conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan due to “serious misconduct,” after she served a total of 98 days in prison. Conscientious objector Hadas Tal, who has served 60 days thus far, is awaiting another prison sentence. The three are supported by Mesarvot — Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest at the occupation.