Refuseniks update: Military parole committee
7 July 2004

The military parole committee convened yesterday at the military court in Jaffa to discuss the possibility of a parole to the five conscientious objectors refusing to enlist in an army of occupation. The committee will give its decision in a couple of days.

Background: after spending more than a year in military prisons and incarceration, the refuseniks -  Haggai Matar, Matan Kaminer, Shimri Zameret, Adam Maor and Noam Bahat - were sentenced in January to one year in prison (not including the previous terms). According to the IDF's demand, they were transferred to a civilian prison in February.

During the hearing, Captain Erez Guryon, who represented the IDF's judge advocate general, objected to any deduction at the moment and asked that the committee would reconvene in September to decide upon the possibility of a minimal reduction. He emphasized that the five did not express any remorse about their deeds. He then added that then, in September, he'd express the opinion that the five should get "some reduction, between a third of the period to nothing, but closer to nothing". Guryon also said that the issue of the future of the five, after their release, was still open, and that they might be summoned again to the induction center.

As a response, Doron Matar, father of Haggai, said: The army acts against our sons in the same spirit as it used to do during the trial - the spirit of the inquisition. The request for remorse is meant to break their conscience. Is this what we want in a democratic state? What Guryon said during the hearing amounts to a denial of the usual benefit that every prisoner gets. We presented to the committee wonderful reports written by the prison's social workers, proving that the behavior of the five is excellent, that they contribute to their inmates by teaching and helping them, that they are appreciated by wardens and inmates alike."

"We call upon every conscientious person in Israel and throughout the world to help bringing this ordeal to an end, by writing letters to Israeli authorities, by organizing activities of support and rallies calling to the release of the conscientious objectors. Conscience is not a crime; it is not a murder, a rape, a robbery. It is too bad that the army authorities still refuse to realize this."