ISRAEL: Feminist conscientious objector Idan Halili sentenced to 14 days imprisonment
On Tuesday morning, 15 November 2005, Israeli feminist conscientious objector Idan Halili (ISR14775) presented herself at the Israeli army's main Induction center near Tel Aviv. Idan Halili refuses to enlist for mandatory military service based on her feminist beliefs and conscience. She wrote in a statement:
"A strongly patriarchal institution, like the army, underlines female marginality ... and the superiority of male-identified values. ...
It might be said that a mood of sexual harassment is endemic to ... the army. And so the demand that a woman enlist is tantamount to demanding that she cope with sexual harassment ... Since the army is such a central institution in society, a culture of sexual harassment also is exported to ... civic society. ... I as a feminist, feel I must avoid military service and act to limit and reduce the influence of the army on civic society. ... When men spend a formative period of their lives in the military they are likely to receive positive reinforcements for the use
of brute power and violence ... in an organization whose main values
include superiority and control. ... I cannot join an organization
either directly or indirectly, encourages violence ... of any form and
kind ... against women. ... I cannot live in such flagrant denial of my
Idan Halili demanded to be heard by the army's so-called "conscience
committee", which is authorised to grant exemption based on reasons of
On Tuesday, she was accompanied by 50 supporters, men and women, who
held placards and distributed leaflets explaining the connection
between the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, militarism and
sexism in Israeli society.
Idan was briefly interviewed by the Head of the Women's Section at the
Main Induction Center, spent the night in detention at the center, and
was eventually sentenced to 14 days in military prison. She has been
transferred to Military Prison 400 near Tel Aviv and is likely to
undergo an indefinite number of re-incarcerations following her release
on 28 November - as is the practice with other conscientious objectors.
According to Israeli law, women are conscripted to the military, but -
unlike men - they have a right to conscientious objection. Military
service lasts for three years in the case of men, and 20-21 months in
the case of women.
In it's report "Conscientious
objection to military service in Israel: an unrecognised human right",
War Resisters' International wrote: "Women can claim exemption from
military service on grounds of conscience under arts. 39 (c) and 40 of
the Defence Service Law, according to which religious reasons can be
grounds for exemption.
Art. 39 (c) deals with the exemption of women with a particular
religious background. According to this article: "A female person of
military age who has proved, in such manner and to such authority as
shall be prescribed by regulations, that reasons of conscience or
reasons connected with her family's religious way of life prevent her
from serving in defence service, shall be exempt from the duty of that
Art. 40 specifies exemption on religious grounds. According to it,
exemption is permissible when: "(1) reasons of religious conviction
prevent her from serving in the defence service and (2) she observes
the dietary laws at home and away from home and (3) she does not ride
on the Sabbath."
This article is somewhat ambiguous, as it does not specify which
religious conviction can achieve exemption. However, the military
authorities have always assumed that it only applies to Jewish Orthodox
women who keep the sabbath and kosher rules. There is no article
specifying 'reasons of conscience', but conscientious objection of
women is not limited to religious reasons.
Written application must be made to the Ministry of Defence
conscription administration, before the first date for reporting at
that office. Application procedure involves a hearing by an exemption
board, which may include a Rabbi, psychiatrist, army officer, a
representative of the public and a female soldier. Amnesty
International comments that, "although the law treats female
conscientious objectors more generously than males, this is not to say
that Israel fully recognises the right of female conscientious
objectors to exemption from military service. ... Additionally, Israeli
law does not recognise the right of women who have already served in
the IDF to seek exemption from military service on grounds of
conscientious objection". This also applies to women conscripts during
their service, who do not have any option to apply for conscientious
objection, or exemption. Almost all women who apply for exemption and
go through the procedure - which might include appealing to a higher
committee - are exempted from military service. However, the appearance
before the committee is usually a humiliating experience. Most of the
questions asked are irrelevant to the issue of conscientious objection.
Information about the option of gaining a CO status is usually
concealed by the army. No kind of regulations or criteria - other than
administrative aspects of the committee's work - exist, especially
there are no criteria regarding the granting of a CO status."
With few exceptions, most women COs have been granted conscientious
objector status. However, in late 2003 and early 2004, several women
COs spent time in military prison. Ingbal Gelbert (ISR13820) was the
first women CO to go to prison for refusing to enlist (see href="http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/21112003b.html">co-alert, 21
November 2003), and by spring 2004 three women were serving prison
terms (see co-alert,
3 March 2004). In August 2004 the Israeli Supreme Court published a
decision on the appeal of women CO Laura Milo, which narrowed the right
to conscientious objection for women (see co-update e-newsletter No 3, November 2004). However, this seems to have been widely ignored
by the Israeli authorities.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Idan
Idan Halili (Mil ID 6863705)
Military Prison 400
Military Postal Code 02447
International calls for letters of protest to the
Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter can
be sent at /co/alerts/20051118a.html.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of
conscientious objector Idan Halili, and an end
to the repeated imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International
Fax: +972-3-696-27-57 / +972-3-691-69-40 / +972-3-691-79-15
Commander of Military Prison No 4
Military Prison No 4
Military Postal Code 02507
Commander of Military Prison No 6
Military Prison No 6
Military postal number 01860,
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