IDF Allows Draft Resister to Serve in His Civilian Clothes

The army has agreed to allow draft resister Rotem Ronen to serve in the Home Front Command handing out gas masks - and he'll be allowed to wear civilian clothes while serving. Nor will he have to swear allegiance to the army and the state when he is formally inducted.

Ronen has already served two military prison terms as a draft resister who refuses to cooperate with what he refers to as the occupation army, and was one of some 500 12th graders who signed a letter vowing to resist the military draft until the occupation ends. Like most of those who signed the letter, he does not regard himself as a pacifist, and he says his refusal to swear allegiance to the army and state is a matter of principle, because some aspects of the state are racist.

The IDF Spokesman's Office refused to comment on the case further than saying that Ronen is in the induction process. The unusual compromise was worked out with Brig. Gen. Avi Zamir, head of the planning and administration department in the IDF Manpower Branch.

Sources who have been closely monitoring the army's attitude toward draft resisters, as well as the reserve service "refuseniks," say that the Ronen decision is an indication by the army that it is time for the legislature to rewrite the conscription laws to allow alternative national service on behalf of society for conscientious objectors and others who refuse service in the territories or in the army in general.

Five of the draft resisters are currently facing courts martial, and 16 are serving prison terms. The unprecedented compromise agreement with Ronen is being regarded by the resistance movement as an achievement.

However, Maj. (res.) Danny Flik, an infantry battalion doctor, was sentenced Wednesday to 14 days in military prison for his refusal to serve in the territories. Flik, a member of the board of Physicians for Human Rights, said "after 12 years of service in the battalion, I reached the conclusion I can no longer serve in the territories ... the last two years have brought me to the decision that I can no longer cooperate with what is taking place there."