Testimony of Israeli refuseniks at court-martial
CO Haggai Matar speaks out of his already considerable personal experience with the occupation, to which he adds long quotes from the reports of human rights organizations as well as stories which he heard from military prison cell-mates who have been to the territories.
"In 1999, I joined a special of joint summer studies by Israeli,
Palestinian and Jordanian pupils. Soon afterwards I started correspondence
with a Palestinian Administrative Detainee who was held in an Israeli
prison for six years without trial. When at last he was
I joined actions of the Gush Shalom and Ta'ayush movements. We went to the territories to rebuild houses demolished by the army, to provide humanitarian help in towns hit by closure or curfew, to support Palestinian villagers who have been violently assaulted by settlers. Always, soldiers tried to block us and in many cases used violence against us.
In 2001, I met again with some of the Palestinian pupils of the summer
camp and they told harrowing stories of being beaten up and arrested by
soldiers. One told of witnessing his friends in Ramallah being shot to
death. On August 20, 2002, three days before I was due to present myself
for enlistment, I and several other activists got an emergency call to
With all my experiences, I had no doubt: I absolutely don't want to be and can't be part of the Israeli army which I don't think has any longer the right to call itself an army of defence."
[The above is excerpted from a two-hour speech; full text in Hebrew and English available from Anat Matar <firstname.lastname@example.org>]
|The philosophical analysis of CO Matan Kaminer,
next in line, was no less impassioned.
"In this testimony I would like to describe the guiding lines of
my conscience and explain why it is incompatible with service in today's
Israeli army. For some people the basic value from which their
All of these rights are violated in countless ways by the occupation -mainly violated as regards the Palestinians, but in many ways also regarding Israelis. The right of Palestinians to life is violated by the policy of liquidations (which indirectly causes also the loss of Israeli life, as we saw last week), and by the constant military activity in populated areas which causes the death and wounding of civilians. The right to equality, both of Palestinians and of Israelis living within the Green line is violated by the policy of settlement which takes land, resources and basic human dignity from Palestinians and which discriminates against most Israelis in the division of national resources.
The right of Palestinians to welfare and to education are violated by
the ongoing closures and curfews which cause the sky-rocketing unemployment
figures and the severe disruption of the educational system.
The contempt for democracy is gradually crossing into Israel proper,
with racist extreme right parties becoming an acceptable and common component
of government coalitions. The deprivation to the right of democracy of
the Palestinians is the root cause of all the crimes which accompany the
occupation - both the
From all of this, it logically follows that service in the army, which
is the main instrument for implementing the occupation is totally against
my conscience. My decision to refuse enlistment does not mean that I
The occupation is a terrible crime; an immoral and malignant crime against
another society which spreads also to our own society, strangling and
poisoning it. Obviously, in such a situation I can't go into the army.
I can only ask that my conscience be recognized and that I be provided
an opportunity to do alternative civilian service for the benefit of the
[Summary provided by Matan himself and translated by Gush Shalom. Full
Hebrew text available from: Noam Kaminer <email@example.com>]
| At three in the afternoon it was the turn of
"Already for years I knew that I was not going
to join the army. I knew it with as much certainty as I know that I will
never kick a homeless person lying on the sidewalk, never rape a woman,
and when I will have
And later on the day it turned out that her sister was killed as well.
It brought home to me what does it mean, that the life of this girl whom
I knew will never be the same again; how terrible it is when something
Exactly because I told Merav that I feel committed to do whatever I can to prevent such things from happening again to others, I feel that one of the most important things which I as an individual can do, is refusing to serve in the army.
After all, everybody knows how the present situation will end: always
in the last centuries the rebellion of an occupied people eventually ended
in its freedom. The only question how much time it will take, and how
Another point: what the occupation is doing to our society. I want to
tell about Rami, whom I met in the prison. I sat with him for hours, listening.
It is incredible how many terrible things he had witnessed in just three
months of service in the territories. He told me about the young boy who
threw a stone at the lieutenant-
That's what happens to the sensitive people. The non-sensitive ones,
those who get used to these Wild West norms, afterwards bring these norms
into the Israeli society itself. We are corrupting ourselves. I am not
willing to be part of the main instrument of corruption."