Israel: IDF releases longest-serving female conscientious objector
(14.07.2016) Young Israeli women Tair Kaminer and Tania Golan pose for a final photo outside the Tel Hashomer induction base where they announced their refusal to serve in the Israeli army, January 31, 2016. Kaminer was sentenced to prison.
Israel’s longest-serving conscientious objector Tair Kaminer was granted exemption from military service on Thursday after spending nearly 150 days in an IDF prison.
On Thursday morning a military committee found that Kaminer, 19, was not fit for military service due to her “poor and severe behavior” — namely the fact that she refused to serve in the army due to her opposition to its policies in the occupied territories.
The decision to release Kaminer comes a week after she stood before the IDF’s conscientious objectors committee, where she laid out her case for exemption. The committee has historically decided to not exempt female conscientious objectors such as Kaminer, who declare their refusal to enlist in the army due to their explicit opposition to the occupation (as opposed to pacifism, for example).
Before her imprisonment, Kaminer performed a year of national service with the Israeli Scouts (“Tzofim”) in the southern development town of Sderot. There she volunteered with children who suffer from trauma following multiple wars in Gaza and continual rocket fire on the city. “The children I worked with grew up in the heart of the conflict and have had extremely difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that caused them to feel hatred, which can be understood, especially when it comes from young children,” Kaminer wrote in a statement published this past January.
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“Like them, many children who grow up in Gaza or in the West Bank, in an even more difficult environment, learn to hate the other side,” the statement read. “They, too, cannot be blamed. When I look at all of these children, and the next generation on both sides and the reality in which they grow up, I see only more trauma and pain. And I say enough! That is why I refuse: so that I do not take an active part in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the injustices that the Palestinian people face under occupation, so that I do not take part in this circle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.”
Omri Brenes, another female conscientious objector, is also serving time in military prison for refusing to enlist due to her opposition to the occupation. She is currently waiting for a response from the conscientious objectors committee on her case. Meanwhile, Kai Hen, a conscientious objector who spent 30 days in prison, was released from prison earlier this week.