Yana Gorelik, a 30-year old Canadian-Israeli, got an unpleasant surprise when she arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday: she was detained as a deserter from the IDF and spent four days in jail, missing her cousin’s wedding.
Gorelik had moved with her parents to Canada at age 17 and had visited Israel several times over the last two years without a problem, Maariv reported on Wednesday. However, this time she says she was stopped and asked to sort out her official release from the IDF, but was then “humiliated” by being handcuffed and sent to a detention center.
She said the authorities treated her “like I was a delinquent, and threw me in jail with other girls. They treated us like we were dogs. That’s it, I am finished with Israel. I don’t want to be a citizen anymore.”
In response to the incident, the IDF said that “Gorelik did not complete her exemption from military service in 2007 as requested by the IDF,” stating that the failure to do so was legally considered desertion. All children who were born in Israel and lived here until the age of 15 are required to serve in the military unless they receive an official exemption. Those who reside abroad can complete an exemption process in their local embassies.
The army said that she was incarcerated, served an indictment and judged like any other army deserter. Gorelik maintains that the Israeli consulates in both Canada and London had told her that because of her age as displayed on her new passport, she did not need to file an official exemption.