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Yoni Ben Artzi & Uri Ya'acobi Made Into Scapegoats


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Gush Shalom
Press Release

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Yoni Ben Artzi and Uri Ya'acobi made into scapegoats

Yoni Ben Artzi and Uri Ya'acobi, who both already served five consecutive prison terms for refusing to serve in the army, were today imprisoned for the sixth time and received respectively 35 and 28 days in Military Prison-4. Ben Artzi will at the end of this period come close to half a year in prison. No community service for these conscientious objectors, but military prison with its short nights and its long days of forced labor.

The struggle for the release of these two - officially adopted by Amnesty International ( http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/IOT_Conscientious_Objectors) - is not so much a struggle on behalf of refusal to serve in the army but in the first place a struggle for fair behavior towards principled youngsters. In this country the religious succeeded to get exemption from army service for every "Yeshiva Student" - without in the least objecting to the use of violence, only to themselves having to do the dirty work. It is inacceptable that at the same time non- religious students are again and again imprisoned for the fact that they happen to have a conscience which forbids them to take part in an army which all their life (and much longer) has been an occupation army.

The two re-jailed today have both been behind bars for more than 100 days already (Ben-Artzi 126, and Ya'acobi 106). The fact that there is no sign of allowing them to see the army's "Incompatibility Commission" (the only way out of the vicious circle) is proof that a policy of years has been changed. There was for years an unwritten rule that such repeated imprisonments of COs would never exceed 90 to 100 days. There can be no more doubt: the army embarked on a new policy of harsh treatment of refusers. The new policy of "breaking the conscientious objectors" is meant to crash also another phenomenon: the increasing and widespread unwillingness to serve in the army. The steep rise in the number of pacifist and political refusers is only the tip of the iceberg. According to military correspondents the number of soldiers who "vote with their feet" by just not coming when they are called up seems to have risen even more dramatically.

Yoni Ben Artzi en Uri Ya'acobi are the first to suffer from this new policy; several other young COs are right now in prison for not yet as many days (Yoni Yechezkel, Dror Boimel, Haggai Matar - to mention some) and at least four others are due to enter this week (among them Matan Kaminer, whose letter circulates these days on the net) and these four will be accompanied by a crowd of future refusers - tomorrow at 7.30 up to the gates of the Tel- Hashomer recruitment center. But right now we advise to focus the struggle on the two who entered their sixth term. Ben Artzi en Ya'acobi now need all the support they can get.

Letters of support (which will be passed on by their family) to:

Yoni: Matania.Ben-artzi@huji.ac.il

Uri: Prison_Hamster@hotmail.com

Letters of protest to: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pm_eng@pmo.gov.il
Spokesperson of the Prime Minister dover@pmo.gov.il
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz sar@mod.gov.il
Spokesperson Defense Ministry info@mail.idf.il
Foreign Minister Benyamin Netanyahu sar@mofa.gov.il

+ COPIES to:

Amnesty International drovera@amnesty.org,
amnesty1 mhoubrec@amnesty.org

We very much urge you also to send your protest by fax or regular post to:

Minister of Defence Mr. Sha'ul Mofaz,
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan st.,
Tel-Aviv 61909,
Israel.
Fax:+972-(0)3-696-27-57 / +972-(0)3-691-69-40 / +972-(0)3-691-79-15

Commander of Military Prison No. 4,
Military Postal Code 02507
IDF, Israel
Fax: +972-(0)3-957-52-76

And, last but not least: speak to the commander (or his helper) of Military Prison-4: +972-(0)3-9577555 / +972-(0)3-9577559 / +972-(0)3-9577560

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On our site:

http://www.gush-shalom.org/

http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html (English)

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