Draft resister sent back to prison: Eight sentences, 130 days

Natan Blanc is sentenced to prison for the eighth time after he once again refused to be inducted into the IDF. Palestinian prisoner dies of cancer in Israeli custody, prisoners launch hunger strikes.

Natan Blanc at the induction base this morning (Oren Ziv / Activestills)
Natan Blanc at the induction base this morning (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Conscientious objector Natan Blanc was sentenced to an eighth prison term today. After having served 116 days in prison, Blanc received another 14-day sentence this morning when he reported to the induction base and once again refused to be inducted, due to what he defines as the “wave of aggressive militarism” in Israeli society, the occupation of Palestinian territories and the siege and military campaigns on Gaza.

Once released, Blanc will have to report to the induction base again and might face a ninth prison term, with no visible end to the process in sight. Recently the army’s “unsuitability committee,” which examined his case, found Blanc to be suitable for service and denied his request for an exemption based on his conscientious beliefs. As Blanc continues to refuse to see to the army psychologist for the extremely common “profile 21” discharge on mental health grounds, there is no telling when he might be released. Blanc’s full statement can be found in the previous post I wrote about him.

Natan Blanc in prison waving a towel in supporters in a demonstration last month (Haggai Matar)
Natan Blanc in prison waving a towel to thank supporters in a demonstration last month (Haggai Matar)

As the young refuser spends more time in prison, support for him and his release is growing. Video clips made by Yesh Gvul (“There is a Limit”), the oldest refuser movement in Israel, show Blanc talking about his refusal and feature statements of support from Israeli and Palestinian activists. Activists have so far held three demonstrations on the hilltop opposite Military Prison No. 6, where Blanc is being held, played music to him over the wall and waved at him, recognizing his important step against the occupation and Apartheid.

Meanwhile, in the occupied territories the atmosphere became tense as a veteran Palestinian prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, died of cancer while in Israeli custody. Abu Hamdiyeh died after his request for an early release that would have allowed him to pass peacefully at home was denied by authorities. Demonstrations broke out in several places throughout the West Bank, and some prisoners declared a hunger strike of mourning and protest. The longest of the hunger strikes, carried out by Samer Issawi, has been ongoing for over six months.

Read also:
Hunger-striker Samer Issawi is another statistic in an unjust legal system
As Palestinian hunger strikes come to a head, world begins to take notice
Palestinian cartoonist detained for a month as prisoner protests grow