A disciplinary body of the Israeli military last week sentenced a young Communist soldier and conscientious objector, Roman Levin, to 30 additional days in military prison for his refusal to continue serving in the army. Upon completing his current sentence, he will have served a total of 80 days behind bars.
Levin, 19, from the city of Bat Yam just south of Tel Aviv, immigrated to Israel with a few members of his family from the Ukraine when he was 3 years old. He initially believed his military service would contribute to society and fulfill his duties as a citizen.
“I refuse to continue my military service,” Levin said. “My refusal is an act of protest against an occupation that has lasted more than 50 years and of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.” This is the fourth time Levin has been sentenced for refusing to continue his service in the army. He had previously been jailed twice after having served a year and a half as a truck driver. Roman is being supported by Mesarvot — Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to be conscripted into the military in protest against the occupation.
Prior to his first stint in prison, Levin published a statement in which he described how his service in the occupied territories affected his political views: “When I was recruited, I thought the army serves the interests of Israeli citizens, but after serving in the territories I understood that the army’s actions don’t serve my interests or the interests of workers in Israel, especially after the continuous murder of demonstrators along the Gaza fence. The passage of the Nation-State Law strengthened that understanding for me. I came to the conclusion that you can’t hold both ends of the rope – to resist occupation, racism and the capitalist order, while serving in a military that preserves these things.”
Kamal Zidan, an Arab-Druze citizen of Israel, whose refusal is based on his Palestinian identity, was also sentenced last week to 20 more days in military prison. Both Levin and Zidan are kept in harsh conditions, including being placed in solitary confinement.