Shahar Perets, who was sentenced to prison for refusing to join the Israeli army, talks about meeting Palestinians for the first time, her visits to the West Bank, and how Israeli society represses the occupation.
Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets was sentenced to 10 days in military prison on Tuesday after announcing her refusal to join the Israeli army over its policies toward Palestinians.
Perets, 18, from the town of Kfar Yona, is one of the 120 teenagers who signed the “Shministim Letter” (an initiative with the Hebrew nickname given to high school seniors) in January, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the army in protest of its policies of occupation and apartheid. In June 2020, she was one of the 400 Israeli teenagers who signed a letter to the Israeli leadership demanding it halts its erstwhile plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as part of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan.
On Tuesday morning, dozens of supporters, including Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, accompanied both Perets and conscientious objector Eran Aviv — who will enter his fourth stint behind bars — to the Tel Hashomer induction base in central Israel, where they both told the army they would not serve. Aviv has spent a total of 54 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the army, and was sentenced to an additional 10 days behind bars. After they are released, they will have to return to the induction base and repeat the process until the army decides to discharge them. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.
Aviv arrived to the induction base in uniform after he began the enlistment process in May, when the army promised him a position that was unrelated to the occupation. When army officials reneged on the promise, he chose to refuse — yet from the IDF’s point of view, he is considered a soldier.
Shahar’s father, Shlomo Perets, who himself sat in prison four times for refusing to serve in Lebanon and the occupied territories, was also there to support his daughter. “These are her choices, she does what she has decided out of awareness, care, and a desire to make a change. I support her and hope that she will succeed in not doing the things that go against her principles and refusing to be what she is not.”