30-year-old Canadian-Israeli Woman Jailed by IDF for 'Draft Evasion'

Yana Gorelik, who left Israel at age 17 and was recently arrested while visiting to attend a wedding, reaches plea agreement with IDF prosecutor.

A Canadian-Israeli woman arrested for draft evasion while visiting Israel has reached a plea agreement with the Israel Defense Forces Military Advocate General.

Under the agreement, which was approved by the IDF military court in Jaffa on Thursday, Yana Gorelik will serve three months in jail and also receive a suspended sentence.

Gorelik, 30, arrived in Israel from London to attend a family wedding and visit relatives, but was arrested by the IDF, Maariv reported in early September.

When Gorelik left Israel with her family at age 17, she failed to report to the draft office and get an exemption from military service, as she was legally required to do.

Under Israeli law, citizens emigrating from Israel must file a formal request to be exempted from service.

Since she failed to obtain an exemption when she was 17,  Gorelik was arrested upon her arrival in Israel and imprisoned for desertion. Soon after, she was charged with absence from military service for 4,170 days – more than 11 years. 

The IDF prosecution initially asked the court to sentence Gorelik to five months in prison, but after admitting to the charges she was handed three months in jail plus a suspended sentence.

The prosecution cited two reasons for the plea deal: The IDF had already decided about two weeks ago to exempt Gorelik from service due to unsuitability and she made it clear that she has no intention of living in Israel. However, the military court decided Gorelik will have an official criminal record for draft evasion.

Following the court’s ruling, Gorelik’s attorney Benny Koznitz told Haaretz: “After mediation with the court, we reached a deal with the prosecution. This is a complex case and we’re glad a deal was reached. According to the settlement, she has two months remaining to serve in prison, and we’re pleased this is over and the defendant will be able to put it behind her.”