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Israeli Communist jailed for refusing to continue military service

Roman Levin, 19, described his refusal to serve as an ‘act of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip’

AN ISRAELI communist has been jailed after he refused to continue serving in the army because of his opposition to the occupation of Palestine.

Nineteen-year-old Roman Levin, a lorry driver at the military base in Beit Naballah, was taken to Military Prison 6 near Atlit following last week’s hearing, at which he described his refusal to serve as an “act of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Mr Levin, who came to Israel from Ukraine at the age of three, began his military service 18 months ago. While serving, he joined the Young Communist League of Israel.

In a statement justifying his refusal to continue his military service, he highlighted the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and the brutal treatment of the West Bank and Gaza Strip’s residents.

He explained that, having visited relatives in Ukraine and encountered racism and contempt for his Jewish ethnicity and culture in that country, this experience had helped foster and develop his empathy for the Palestinian people.

“I refuse to keep participating in the oppression of the Palestinian people. In the [occupied] territories, more and more settlements are being built while Palestinians are subjected to policies of land confiscations and home demolitions. 

“Since 2006, Israel has destroyed more than 2,000 homes in the occupied territories. Palestinians have limited freedom of movement, both inside their homeland and when travelling outside it, as the Palestinian passport is ranked 189th in the world and in the Gaza Strip this right is revoked entirely,” he told the court.

Mr Levin argued that the actions of the army do not serve the interest of Israeli workers, particularly after “the continued murder of demonstrators at the Gaza fence.”

“The Nation-State Law reinforced that understanding for me. I concluded 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,” he said.

He condemned the Israeli government for spending “around 70 billion shekels a year on the defence budget instead of investing in education, health and welfare,” thus robbing Israeli workers of a better future.

He also accused Israel of profiting from arms sales to tyrannical regimes and directly aiding India’s persecution of the farmers’ resistance movement.

Mr Levin warned that the Israeli military remained an obstacle to Jewish and Arab unity in the struggle against capitalism and called for international solidarity to create a future without exploitation, oppression and wars.

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