(JTA) — Some 63 Israeli high school students signed a public letter declaring that they will refuse to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.
The letter, published on Thursday in the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Acharonot, was addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot.
“The army implements the policy of a racist government that violates basic human rights, which applies one law to Israelis and another to the Palestinians in the same area,” the students, most in 12th grade, wrote. “Therefore we decided to not take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, which separates people into two hostile camps. Because as long as people live under occupation that denies them human rights and national rights we cannot achieve peace.”
The letter also said: “An entire nation is living under institutionalized incitement directed against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and we are here – young men and women from different parts of the country and different social backgrounds – refusing to believe the systematic incitement or participate in the government’s oppressive and occupying arm.
One of the signatories currently is serving in jail over his refusal to be drafted, Haaretz reported.
Medical issues and religious objection are considered valid reason for exemption from military service. Exemptions are not made for conscientious objectors.