This Week's Message 

Young Israelis go to prison rather than take part in the Gaza War

Hi, my name is Einat Gerlitz, and last year I refused to serve in the Israeli military.

A year ago, I was imprisoned in military prison for 87 days for refusing to enlist. Throughout the process of my refusal, I received the legal, political and social support of Mesarvot Network, the only network for Israeli conscientious objectors.

During these tough times of war, our hope lies in nonviolent civil resistance. That is why I’m proud to be part of Mesarvot Network, especially in the darkest of times, as we refuse to stay silent. Brave young people like Tal and Sofia are refusing to serve a cycle of violence, and by their refusal create an alternative.

Tal Mitnick, 18, was first imprisoned last December, and was the first public anti-war refuser.

He bravely went to prison while carrying the message “there is no military solution”. He is currently imprisoned for the third time, sentenced to 105 days in total. Tal believes that “more killing and more violence won’t bring back the lives lost on October 7.”

“Continuing the circle of revenge: ‘an eye for an eye,’ without thinking about an actual solution that would provide security and freedom to us all, will only lead to more killing and suffering,” as he recently told The Guardian. Tal has experienced hateful comments, has been called a traitor and has been told that he should have been killed in the Be’eri massacre, part of the Hamas attack on Southern Israel.

In a recent phone call from military prison, Tal told me there is no end in sight to these continuous imprisonments. He says that the support he receives from letters people send him helps him stay strong through this current imprisonment of 45 days.

Sofia Orr, 18, refused to serve in the Israeli military on February 25th.

Now she is serving her second prison sentence of 20 days, amounting to a total of 40 days. “I won’t serve an endless cycle of bloodshed” she recently said to The Times. Sofia’s strong belief in peace and in humane values gives her strength through her tough time in prison.

Sofia courageously says that violence cannot solve the situation - neither violence enacted by Hamas, nor by Israel. In a recent interview to France24 Sofia spoke up saying she refuses to enlist to serve the army of a government that only continues the circle of hurt and bereavement. With so much pain at this moment we find it important to publicly resist and refuse to take part in the military.

Sofia asked that I share with you that she had received many threats, and that she feels encouraged by the support that she received from around the world, that enables her and others to speak up and defend their right to resist militarism and fight for human rights.

From: Einat, Mesarvot Network