Conscientious objector: ‘I don’t want to wear a uniform that symbolizes violence and pain’

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)

Oren Ziv, +972 Magazine, September 1, 2021

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.”

New Prime Minister, Same Human Rights Violations

Dear Friend,

I am heavy, but hopeful. The last two weeks have been heartbreaking and enraging in so many ways: we see U.S. government fingerprints, our tax dollars at work, on carnage around the world, from Afghanistan to Palestine. Our government has left the Afghan people to a chaotic power vacuum in the aftermath of 20 years of U.S. invasion, and denied refuge to so many. And the U.S. welcomed the new Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel, Naftali Bennett, to the White House just days after Israeli forces shot Palestinian protesters in Gaza, injuring a 13-year-old child.

But as a communication professional in advocacy, I know the power of shifting the narrative to transform what’s possible for future policy. This week we’ve seen people-powered actions disrupting the narratives of the powerful. On Afghanistan, that looks like an outpouring of people’s support for Afghan refugees—follow Afghans for a Better Tomorrow on Instagram and Twitter for one view into the outpouring of community support for providing refuge to Afghans made vulnerable by our disastrous foreign policy. And on Palestine, we’ve been part of a powerful conclusion to August’s month of action this week, with people like you speaking up in the media, in joint letters, and in the streets to condemn this red carpet rollout for war criminal Bennett and push toward an end to U.S. support for Israel’s colonialism once and for all.

Join us by raising your voice: Today the mainstream media is reporting on Israeli PM Bennett and President Biden’s meeting on “peace” and “security,” while an end to billions of dollars of U.S. weapons to bomb, cage, and displace Palestinians remains off the agenda.



Sign this petition
to demand President Biden support real justice for Palestinians.

Joint Statement On Biden-Bennett Meeting

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), August 26, 2021

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting today with newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, ADC, along with the undersigned organizations, insists President Biden center core Palestinian calls for justice and demand that the Israeli government ends its ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the blockade of Gaza and immediately halting ongoing ethnic cleansing and forced expulsions of hundreds of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Jerusalem.

Palestinians have suffered under, and resisted, Israeli ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and crimes of apartheid since the creation of the state of Israel. The U.S. has enabled those policies by sending billions of dollars in unconditional military funding and by regularly shielding Israel from accountability in the international arena. If President Biden truly wants to center justice and human rights in U.S. foreign policy, he must finally condemn and take action to end U.S. diplomatic support and military funding for the Israeli government’s ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights. These include restrictions on freedom of movement; extrajudicial killings; demolitions of homes; ill-treatment and torture of children in military court systems; illegal annexation of land; theft of water and other natural resources; the suffocating blockade of Gaza and deadly and repeated military assaults on Palestinians there; the denial of the right of refugees to return to their homes; and more.

It is painfully clear that without pressure and demands for accountability from the U.S.—including cutting military funding to the Israeli government and sanctions—the Israeli government will continue to violate Palestinian rights. Our tax dollars should be invested in life affirming policies like housing and healthcare, not harm to communities around the globe.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby said,“President Biden has an opportunity with this meeting to shift his administration’s complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by instead advocating in support of the human rights of Palestinians. He must rise to meet this moment and demonstrate that the US will not stand idly by while Israel routinely kills Palestinians, while they routinely throw Palestinians out of their homes, and while they routinely deny Palestinians access to clean water and medical care – an issue that is of particular importance during a global pandemic.”

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) Executive Director Lara Kiswani said, “Biden owes his presidency to the millions of people who rose up to resist racist authoritarianism. He now has an obligation to stand with mass movements demanding change by taking decisive action for the sovereignty of Palestinian people to raise his voice against apartheid, supporting a moratorium on military funding to Israel, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza, and calling for an immediate end to ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.”

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid said, “President Biden is complicit in fueling Israeli violence against the Palestinian people – including the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza this spring, after which his administration pushed to approve additional weapons sales to Israel. Every Israeli government has advanced Israel’s colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The Biden administration has the chance to end our complicity in ongoing Israeli violence once and for all.”

Continue reading

Breaking: Israeli warplanes launch airstrikes on Gaza Strip

Days of Palestine – Gaza, Aug 21, 2021

Israeli occupation warplanes moments ago launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip attacking several sites in the enclave. 

A Days of Palestine correspondent said that heavy explosions were heard in different areas of the Gaza Strip.

He reported that the Israeli military reconnaissance aircraft targeted the site of Areen, west of the central governorate of the Gaza Strip.

“It was followed by attacks with 3 missiles from the Israeli warplanes on the same site,” he confirmed. 

The Ministry of Health reported that the Israeli occupation shot and injured 23 Palestinians in the east of the Gaza Strip, including two in critical condition, one of them a 12-year-old child who took part in the peaceful protest memorializing the 52nd anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Continue reading

Israeli aircraft strike Hamas sites in Gaza as hostilities escalate

Cross-border gunfire earlier on Saturday seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians


Palestinian protesters evacuate an injured youth on a stretcher amid the clashes with Israeli security forces. Photograph: APAImages/Rex/Shutterstock

The Guardian, 21 Aug 2021

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza late on Saturday, the military said, in an escalation of hostilities after earlier cross-border gunfire seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians, including two critically.

The injuries came during a Gaza protest organised by the enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, and other factions in support of Jerusalem, where Palestinian clashes with Israeli police helped spark an 11-day Israel-Hamas conflict in May.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the strip’s heavily fortified border, where some tried to scale the border fence and others threw explosives towards Israeli troops, the Israeli military said. “IDF (Israeli military) troops responded with riot dispersal means, including when necessary live fire,” it said in a statement.

Among the two Palestinians critically injured was a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, Gaza’s health ministry said. It described most of the other injuries as moderate, including gunshots to limbs, backs and abdomens.

Cross-border fire from Gaza seriously wounded an Israeli border police soldier, who is in hospital receiving medical treatment, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility for the Gaza gunfire.

Continue reading

Israeli forces raid DCIP office, confiscate computers and client files


Israeli soldiers confiscated computer equipment and client files in a dawn raid on Defense for Children International – Palestine’s main office in Al-Bireh on July 29. (Source: DCIP)

Defense for Children Palestine, July 29, 2021

Ramallah, July 29, 2021—Israeli forces raided Defense for Children International – Palestine’s headquarters in the central occupied West Bank, confiscating computers and client files, early Thursday morning.

Israeli paramilitary border police forces raided DCIP’s headquarters located in Al-Bireh’s Sateh Marhaba neighborhood, located just south of Ramallah around 5:15 a.m. on July 29. More than a dozen Israeli soldiers forced open the office’s locked front door and confiscated six desktop computers, two laptops, hard drives, and client files related to Palestinian child detainees represented by DCIP’s lawyers in Israel’s military courts. No documents were left in the office to give any indication of the reason for the raid, and they did not leave behind any receipt of materials seized.

“This latest act by Israeli authorities pushes forward an ongoing campaign to silence and eliminate Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations like DCIP,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director at DCIP. “Israeli authorities must immediately end efforts aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations, and the international community must hold Israeli authorities accountable.”

Continue reading

No More Weapons for Israel

Defense for Children Palestine, July 21, 2021

In May 2021, Israeli forces launched an 11-day military offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls. The Israeli military used U.S.-manufactured weapons in a massive assault that resulted in the deaths of at least 256 Palestinians, including 67 children. More than 91,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced at the height of the bombardment, all while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dangerously spread in the Gaza Strip. 

In the midst of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Biden administration approved a $735 million weapons sale to Israel, which included the same kinds of weapons used against Palestinians in Gaza. The State Department approved the sale before Congress could debate and vote on it, despite joint resolutions of disapproval being introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

Additionally, Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is reportedly asking the United States for $1 billion in emergency military assistance to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome aerial missile system. 

The United States already sends Israel $3.8 billion in unconditional military assistance annually, and approving even more military assistance and weapons sales in light of the recent assault on Gaza is unconscionable. 

International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires all parties to an armed conflict to distinguish between military targets, civilians, and civilian objects. While Israel relies on the principle of self-defense to justify military offensives on Gaza, Israeli forces are bound to customary international law rules of proportionality and necessity. As the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, Israel is required to protect the Palestinian civilian population from violence.

For more information, read Defense for Children International – Palestine’s reporting on the Gaza Strip.

Continue reading

Gaza Is Still Under Attack — but You Wouldn’t Know It From the Media

A young medical student speaks out about life in the besieged Strip, the persistence of Israeli attacks, and the need for real solidarity.


Flames are seen after an Israeli air strike strikes in Gaza City, Gaza, on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Amal Haddad, The Nation, JULY 6, 2021

In mid-May, as the Israeli military pummeled the Gaza Strip with shattering force, a medical student in the southern city of Rafah sent a plea to a friend, who shared it with another friend, who shared it with The Nation. The students name was Noor Alshaer, and she was desperate to to speak up—“for our voices to be heard, for our story to be out,” as she wrote.

“I have lived through three heinous wars only to live up to the fourth that already feels worse than all the previous three piled up together,” she continued. “Safety is not option in the strip, and it hurts me so much reading the news on the Western media, seeing how the stories are all one-sided.”

In June, I finally had the chance to speak with Alshaer from her home in Gaza. Though she has lived in the coastal Strip since birth, her family is originally from Bir al-Saba, an ethnically cleansed Palestinian town conquered by Israel in 1948 through aerial bombardment. (Over 70 percent of Palestinians living in Gaza are refugees from other parts of Palestine.)

For two brief years, Alshaer studied neuroscience at Washington and Lee University in Virginia but she had to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Israel did not allow Alshaer to leave the Strip to return to school—Palestinians must apply for a permit to leave Gaza, and are rejected more often than not—so she enrolled in medical school in Gaza.

It was as a medical student as well as a civilian that Alshaer experienced the 11 days of Israel’s latest bombing siege. During that time, Israeli precision-guided airstrikes killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, while over 72,000 Gazans were made homeless; 13 Israelis, including two children were killed. While Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, the violence faced by Palestinians has not ceased—in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel, or of course in Gaza. There, in the besieged Strip, people are not only struggling with the aftermath of the onslaught, but also with ongoing bombing. Continue reading