Israeli army jails conscientious objector for fourth time

Atalya Ben-Abba, 19, has already served 80 days in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF and participate in the occupation.

Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba. (Yona Benstein)
Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba. (Yona Benstein)

Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba, 19, was on Wednesday sentenced to a fourth stint in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF. She has already spent 80 days in prison.

Ben-Abba, a Jerusalem resident, was jailed after reporting at the military induction center, where she declared her refusal to serve in the army on the grounds that she was not prepared to take part in the occupation and repression of the Palestinian people.

Ben-Abba was sentenced to 30 days’ jail time, after which she is expected to receive a further summons to report for duty, when she will once again refuse to enlist and reiterate that she is seeking to replace her army service with civilian national service.

Last week, on the International Day of Conscientious Objection, Amnesty International Israel published the findings of a survey in which it compared draft refusal in Israel to that in several other countries with conscription. According to the survey, when compared alongside Western democracies, Israel is one of the most serious violators of conscientious objectors’ rights under international law.

Amnesty International Israel recommends that conscientious objectors’ refusal be recognized as stemming from a legitimate conflict between their beliefs — for example, pacifism or religious faith — and military service.

Ben-Abba is being 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.

In March, the army recognized refusal to serve in the occupation as conscientious objection for the first time in 13 years, as it decided to release Tamar Ze’evi after she had spent a total of 118 days in prison.

Several other conscientious objectors refused to enlist in the army last year, including Tair Kaminer and Aidan Katri.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.