Military Court Recommends Re-hearing for Draft Objector

An unexpected twist occurred Sunday in the trial of draft refuser Yonatan Ben-Artzi when a Jaffa military court recommended that he be brought anew to the army's conscience committee.

In a well-publicized conscientious objection case, Ben-Artzi, the nephew of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 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 on Sunday cut off summation discussion and issued its recommendation for Ben-Artzi's re-appearance before the army's conscience committee. It issued this recommendation to the IDF 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 [that have surfaced]...the army draft board should consider the arguments for a re-hearing" of Ben-Artzi's claims.

The court was referring to the testimony of Yonatan Ben-Artzi himself, as well as that of his sister and IDF Colonel Shlomo Simhi, who headed the conscience panel before which Ben-Artzi originally appeared.

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

In an appearance before the Jaffa court, Simhi stated that while Ben-Artzi might genuinely believe that he is a conscientious objector, the IDF committee believes otherwise.