Israel Releases Conscientious Objector Natan Blanc From Prison After Nearly Six Months

Blanc, who was protesting the occupation, now seeks to do national service at the Magen David Adom rescue service.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Conscientious objector Natan Blanc was released from military prison Tuesday after spending five and a half months behind bars for refusing to serve in the Israel Defense Forces because of the occupation.

Last week, the IDF had declared Blanc unfit for duty and said it was about to release him.

Blanc, 20, has consistently defined himself as a conscientious objector and has refused to be released from the IDF on psychological grounds. He was sentenced 10 times for a total of 178 days and was let out eight days early.

During Blanc's time in prison, human rights groups lobbied for his release. Last month several dozen people from academia sent a letter to Military Advocate General Danny Efroni calling for his release on the grounds that he was exercising his right to freedom of conscience.

Blanc intends to apply to the Magen David Adom rescue service to do two years of national service.

Four activists from the Yesh Gvul draft-resistance movement came to Military Prison 6 on Tuesday to congratulate Blanc on his release. “We're glad that the IDF, even though it had to be pressured politically, understood that there's no point in remaining angry at someone because he isn’t going to serve,” said an activist in the movement, Yishai Menuhin.

“Yesh Gvul congratulates Natan Blanc for his steadfastness in insisting on his right and obligation to say no to taking part in the occupation's antidemocratic activities. We're also glad that the IDF has decided to drop the method of repeated prison sentences for people who are committed to democratic values and are unwilling to take part in activities that contravene them.”

Blanc himself told Haaretz recently: "The option of seeing a mental-health officer in order to get a discharge, because it’s tough for me in prison, or for some psychological reason, isn't relevant. I think that people who take that route are making a mistake."

Natan Blanc, with his father, after his release from military prison on June 4, 2013. Credit: Rami Shalosh

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