IDF Court Recommends Rehearing for Ben-Artzi

An unexpected twist occurred yesterday in the trial of conscientious objector Yonatan Ben-Artzi when a Jaffa military court recommended that he be brought anew to the army's conscience committee. In a much-publicized case, Ben-Artzi has already served 200 days in military prison after the committee refused in an earlier hearing to recognize him as a pacifist.

The Jaffa court yesterday cut off summation discussion and issued its recommendation for Ben-Artzi to reappear before the army's conscience committee. It issued this recommendation to the judge advocate general after conferring behind closed doors with the prosecutor and defense counsel in the Ben-Artzi case.

The Jaffa court opined: "We believe that in light of new materials [which have surfaced]...the army draft board should consider the arguments for a rehearing of Ben-Artzi's claims."

Ben-Artzi's counsel, attorney Michael Sefarad, said yesterday that he views the court's recommendation as a rebuke of the decision reached by the conscience committee to refuse to grant his client the status of a pacifist.

In an appearance before the Jaffa Court, IDF Colonel Shlomo Simhi, who headed the conscience panel before which Ben-Artzi originally appeared, stated that while Ben-Artzi might genuinely believe that he is a conscientious objector, the IDF committee believes otherwise. Attorney Sefarad rejected this claim outright, saying that it is as if the IDF panel head concedes that Ben-Artzi lives in a virtual world of the matrix while only he, the army committee head, knows how to read the inner code of the matrix.