World

Actions

Israeli Teens Say No To Mandatory Military Service

About 50 teenagers posted an open letter to Israel's prime minister refusing to take part in mandatory enlistment.
Posted at 3:49 PM, Mar 09, 2014

A group of Israeli teenagers are taking a high-profile stand against their required service in the nation's military.

Al Jazeera reports about 50 young poeple cited Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory as the reason behind their refusal to enlist. This came in the form of an open letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Since the Jewish state's founding, the Israeli Defense Force has been able to enlist any citizen of its choosing. As it stands now, the policy requires three years' service from men and two years from women. (Via National Geographic)

But, in practice, about half of Israeli citizens never serve in the nation's military. There are exceptions for those with medical issues, criminal history, ethnic minority status and for people who object on principle — which would likely include this group of teens.

The group posted their open letter on the Facebook page for Yesh Gvul, a non-profit supporting military exemptions. The teens wrote, "Any military service perpetuates the current situation, and therefore we cannot take part in a system that carries out these deeds."

The Israeli-Palestinian relationship has again been strained in recent weeks by new Israeli developments in the disputed West Bank. Netanyahu said Sunday a freeze on that construction would not help peace talks.

A week ago, hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem protested a proposed Israeli law that would eliminate exceptions to enlisting on religious grounds. (Via CBC)

The teens refusing to enlist could face arrest by military police and trial in a military court if they go through with their promise. Although there are religious exemptions, Israelis refusing to serve on ideological objections often face jail time.