Friday, August 22, 2008

Israeli Conscientious Objector Jailed

From the Israeli peace group, NEW PROFILE

CO Avichai Vaknin, 18, a pacifist conscientious objector from the town of Yehud, near Tel-Aviv, has been sentenced on 20 Aug. to 21 days in military prison.Avichai was not in contact with any organisation supporting objectors.

Having developed a pacifist outlook, he tried to appeal to the military authorities. Eventually, he was instructed by people in the Conscription Bureau to prepare a declaration of refusal, but this declaration was ignored by the authorities; he has not even appeared before the military so-called "Conscience Committee".

Avichai Vaknin's enlistment date was set to 14 Aug. Having received no response to his declaration of refusal, he did not report, writing to the military authorities that he still awaits a decision on his request for exemption. He was then summoned to a talk with a military officer, who made it clear that the army is not taking any steps on the matter, and that Avichai is considered officially to be AWOL.

Avichai then decided to report at the Induction Base and refuse orders to enlist, for which he was sentenced to 21 days in prison.Fortunately, while in detention and awaiting trial Avichai met CO Udi Nir, on whose case we have reported yesterday, and through Udi we were able to establish contact with Avichai himself and his family.

In his declaration of refusal, Avichai Vaknin wrote:
"Armies present themselves as providing the solution to civilians' security problems, but in fact armies are the ones that bear the responsibility for imperiling civilians' lives. Armies form the greatest threat to our lives. The violent and militant nature of these organisations is what threatens the security of civilians [...] Armies bear the responsibility for the invention of even newer and more effective ways of killing, for the fact that every day we see newer and more lethal weapons. Armies are responsible for the daily killing of children, women and men. As a pacifist, my worldview, my principles, and above all - my conscience - will not allow me to serve in such an organisation."

Avichai is due to be released from prison on 7 Sept. but may well be imprisoned again after his release. His prison address is:

Avichai Vaknin, ID number 030146277
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860,
Fax: ++972-4-9540580

Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send your letters of support and encouragement to Avichai via e-mail to, and they will be printed out and delivered to him during visits.

In addition, you may want to follow some of our recommendations for action below.

Recommended Action
First of all, please circulate this message and the information contained in it as widely as possible, not only through e-mail, but also on websites, conventional media, by word of mouth, etc.

Other recommendations for action:
1. Sending Letters of SupportPlease send Avichai letters of support (preferably postcards or by fax) to the prison address above.
2. Letters to AuthoritiesIt is recommended to send letters of protest on Avichai's behalf, preferably by fax, to:
Mr. Ehud Barak, Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan St.
Tel-Aviv 61909, Israel

E-mail: or
Fax: ++972-3-696-27-57 / ++972-3-691-69-40 / ++972-3-691-79-15

Copies of your letters can also be sent to the commander of the military prison at:
Commander of Military Prison No. 6
Military Prison No. 6
Military postal number 01860
IDF Israel
Fax: ++972-4-9540580

Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military Attorney General:
Avichai Mandelblit, Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605
IDFIsraelFax: ++972-3-569-43-70

It would be especially useful to send your appeals to the Commander of the Induction Base in Tel-HaShomer. It is this officer that ultimately decides whether an objector is to be exempted from military service or sent to another round in prison, and it is the same officer who is ultimately in charge of the military Conscience Committee:
Gadi Agmon, Commander of Induction Base, Meitav, Tel-HaShomer
Military Postal Code 02718
IDF Israel
Fax: ++972-3-737-60-52

For those of you who live outside Israel, it would be very effective to send protests to your local Israeli embassy. You can find the address of your local embassy on the web.

Here is a sample letter, which you can use, or better adapt, in sending appeals to authorities on the prisoners' behalf:

Dear Sir/Madam,
It has come to my attention that Avichai Vaknin, ID num. 030146277, a conscientious objector, has been imprisoned for his refusal to perform military service, and is held in Military Prison No. 6. The imprisonment of conscientious objectors such as Avichai Vaknin is a violation of international law, of basic human rights and of plain morals. I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Avichai Vaknin, without threat of further imprisonment in the future, and urge you and the system you are heading to respect the dignity and person of conscientious objectors, indeed of all human beings, in the future.


3. Letters to media in Israel and in other countries
Writing op-ed pieces and letters to editors of media in Israel and other countries could also be quite useful in indirectly but powerfully pressuring the military authorities to let go of the objectors and in bringing their plight and their cause to public attention.

Here are some contact details for the main media outlets in Israel:
2 Karlibach St.
Tel-Aviv 67132Israel
Fax: +972-3-561-06-14

Yedioth Aharonoth
2 Moses St.
Fax: +972-3-608-25-46

Ha'aretz (Hebrew)
21 Schocken St.
Tel-Aviv, 61001 Israel
Fax: +972-3-681-00-12

Ha'aretz (English edition)
21 Schocken St.
Tel-Aviv, 61001 Israel
Fax: +972-3-512-11-56

Israel Hayom
2 Hashlosha St. The B1 Building

Jerusalem Post
P.O. Box 81
Jerusalem 91000
Fax: +972-2-538-95-27
e-mail: or

Radio (fax numbers):Kol-Israel +972-2-531-33-15 and +972-3-694-47-09
Galei Zahal +972-3-512-67-20

Television (fax numbers):
Channel 1 +972-2-530-15-36
Channel 2 +972-2-533-98-09
Channel 10 +972-3-733-16-66