Jailed Israeli Conscientious Objector Faces Harsher Detention if Supporters Rally

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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The entrance to Prison 6, officially known as Confinement Base 396.
The entrance to Prison 6, officially known as Confinement Base 396.Credit: Nir Kafri
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

An intelligence officer at Military Prison 6, where conscientious objector Hallel Rabin is being detained, told her that a demonstration in her support would be a “security threat and must not be conducted,” and that she would be sent to a different, “very uncomfortable” prison before a demonstration planned for Saturday, October 31, Rabin said.

Last week, Rabin, 19, was sentenced for the third time to military prison for her refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, because of her opposition to violence.

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The IDF Spokesman’s Office denied that the officer told Rabin this and said that only “matters of prison security” were mentioned.

On Monday, the intelligence officer, who serves in the standing army, summoned Rabin for a talk. Immediately afterward, Rabin told her mother, Irit, about it in a telephone call. She said the officer told her he knew about the planned protest, that it constituted a security threat and that Rabin would be transferred for the weekend to Military Prison 4, in the Tzrifin base, which was very uncomfortable.

Whenever conscientious objectors are in Prison 6, the Yesh Gvul and Mesarvot organizations hold solidarity demonstrations on a hill a few hundred meters from the prison. Conscientious objectors incarcerated there in the past say that while they could not see the protesters, they heard their calls of encouragement and support clearly.

In response, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said: “Owing to his role as being responsible for the safety of prisoners in a military prison, the intelligence officer spoke with the prisoner about matters of prison security and not about security threats, as was claimed. The IDF in general, and Prison 6 in particular, do not prohibit demonstrations.” The statement added that the decision to transfer Rabin to Prison 4 was under review and a final decision will be based solely on “professional considerations.”

Born and raised in the anthroposophical community of Harduf, Rabin has been a vegetarian her entire life. Last week she was sentenced to 25 days in military prison for her refusal to serve in the IDF. This was the third time she was prosecuted for refusing to serve; she was jailed for one week the first time and two weeks the second.

In her application for exemption from military service, she wrote: “I am not willing to take part in cultivating and maintaining a violent reality. I am not willing to take part in an army that is subject to the policy of a government that operates counter to my values.”

Two of the five members of the draft board for conscientious objectors recommended that her request be granted, namely Prof. Yitzhak Benbaji, the academic representative, and Maj. Mor Segal, representing the IDF’s behavioral science unit. Opposed were the chairman, Col. Zvi Gal; 1st Lt. Daniel Hatwell, a legal adviser to the planning and manpower division and 2nd Lt. Roy Mor, representing the manpower division.

The final ruling was signed by the deputy commander of the conscript placement unit, Lt. Col. Avital Sayag Tal. In it, she wrote that the majority of board members was under “the impression that the reasons presented involved not a general conscientious objection to serving in any army, but rather other reasons that do not reflect an absolute refusal to military service.”

“She gave the impression of being a young woman with fine qualities,” the committee’s recommendation said.

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