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Friends of Israeli teenager jailed for rejecting compulsory military service vow to follow in his footsteps | World News

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Friends of an Israeli conscientious objector have promised to follow him in rejecting military service – after he became the first since the Israel-Hamas war began to be jailed for refusing to enlist.

Tal Mitnick, an 18-year-old from Tel Aviv, cited his opposition to the war in Gaza as his decision to reject compulsory fixed-term military service.

He’s now in prison for 30 days, and it’s likely the sentence will be extended.

In Israel, almost every adult serves in a branch of the Israeli Defence Forces, barring a few exceptions.

Iddo Elam, a 17-year-old, who says he will also refuse to serve in the Israeli military when his time comes
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Iddo Elam, 17, says he will also refuse to serve in the Israeli military when his time comes

Spending a few years doing compulsory military training is part of the country’s national identity.

Tal Mitnick, a member of a small group called “Mesarvot”, or “We Refuse”, didn’t want to be part of it.

Some of his friends say that without a group of conscientious objectors to support each other, it would be a “difficult” and lonely political position to take in Israel.

We met three of the Mesarvot members in Tel Aviv.

Iddo Elam, 17, says he will also refuse to serve in the military when his time comes.

Tal Mitnick, an 18-year-old from Tel Aviv, cited his opposition to the war in Gaza as his decision to reject compulsory fixed-term military service.
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Tal Mitnick cited his opposition to the war in Gaza as his decision to reject military service

He says he’s opposed to the war and Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

“Me not serving doesn’t mean I’m taking a stand with Hamas. I’m not a supporter of Hamas, I consider them a terrorist group,” he explains.

“But the current war, is a revenge war against the whole of Gaza, not only Hamas,” Iddo says.

“One massacre does not justify another one.”

An anti-war slogan on the streets of Israel.
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An anti-war slogan on the streets of Israel

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Iddo says he receives “death threats” and “hate”, adding that it’s “alienating”.

There is only a small number of Israelis who are conscientious objectors, who refuse to serve in the military.

Mesarvot has a few hundred members.

If anything, the attack by Hamas on 7 October and the war in Gaza has increased support for the country’s forces.

Iddo says he worries for his friend, Tal, in prison.

“He’s brave, and I know he knows what he’s in for.”

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