Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Israeli reservist goes on hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner

19 June 2012

By Amira Hass, Haaretz – 17 June 2012

Yaniv Mazor, incarcerated for refusing to serve in the ‘occupation army,’ says could not continue overlooking the strife of Palestinian administrative detainees

An Israel Defense Forces reserves soldier, who has refused to partake in army duty to protest Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, has gone on hunger strike in military prison, in what he said was a show of solidarity with Palestinian administrative detainees.

Yaniv Mazor, a 31-year-old Jerusalem resident, was sentenced last week to 20 days in jail over his refusal to fill any position, be it combat or otherwise, in what he said was the occupying army. He was transferred to the IDF’s Tzrifin prison on Monday, launching his hunger strike the following day.

In a phone conversation with his attorney Michael Sfard on Friday, Mazor said that he had “become appalled over the last few months by the hunger strike initiated by Palestinian administrative prisoners, but I couldn’t do much about it.”

“I decided to start a hunger strike in solidarity [with the Palestinians], and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention, and not to prompt my own release,” Mazor added.

The IDF reserves soldier added that he was incarcerated “of my own volition, since I have done something for which I understand I must pay a price. The hunger strike is in protest of administrative detentions.”

Mazor’s friends at the left-wing NGO Ta’ayush said that they had learned that the reserve soldier was placed in isolation after he had refused to wear uniform in the prison as well as to address prison commanders using their official ranks.

Ta’ayush activists also said that prison officials had cancelled the automatic shortening of his sentence (a day for every 10 days), for unspecified reasons.

Mazor, a tour guide in profession, served in the armor corps between 1999 and 2002, with most of his service taking place in the Jordan Valley and some in the West Bank.

He had also reported six or seven times to reserves duty, when, as he told journalist Haggai Matar, the question of Israel’s occupation of the territories began bothering him more and more.

“I arrived in the army as a typical product of the system,” he told Matar, “a nice boy, serving in the territories, doing what he’s told. Without thinking. Mostly without thinking.”

According to Mazor, he had also tried so-called “grey insubordination,” in which the soldier doesn’t make his refusal public. However, after he had returned from a year-long trip abroad, he decided he could not “resume the façade anymore.”

At first, he was sentenced to a 15-day suspended sentence a week and a half ago, after announcing his refusal to serve. Sfard said Mazor was told by his battalion commander “to go home and think.”

“Yaniv told me that he spent the weekend in a tour of Hebron with Breaking the Silence – a NGO collecting testimonies by IDF soldiers concerning their service in the occupied territories – and in a tour of the South Hebron Hills with Ta’ayush,” Sfard said, adding: “His thinking didn’t change in those two days, and his stance regarding insubordination as well.”

He was then ordered to return to the base on Sunday, where the brigade commander sentenced him. According to Mazor, he was informed by the commander that he would continue receiving summons for military service.

In response, the IDF confirmed that a soldier had been put on trial and sentenced to serve time in a military prison, but added that out of respect for the soldier’s privacy it would not discuss details of the case.

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