Israel’s longest jailed female military objector to be freed
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Israel’s longest jailed female military objector to be freed

After 150 days in prison, IDF board rules Tair Kaminer ‘unfit’ to serve, paving way for her release

Tair Kaminer, a 19-year-old Israeli woman who spent more than three months in military prison in what supporters say is the longest sentence ever handed down to a female conscientious objector in Israel. (Shani Scarlett Kagan/Mesarvot via AP)
Tair Kaminer, a 19-year-old Israeli woman who spent more than three months in military prison in what supporters say is the longest sentence ever handed down to a female conscientious objector in Israel. (Shani Scarlett Kagan/Mesarvot via AP)

The Israeli army on Thursday released from mandatory service a 19-year-old Israeli woman who spent over 150 days behind bars after she refused to enlist.

Tair Kaminer — who was the longest held female conscientious objector to date — said she refused to perform compulsory military service because of her opposition to Israel’s nearly 50-year military control over the West Bank and Gaza.

An IDF board said she was being released from army service because she is “unfit due to her severe, bad behavior.”

On July 10, Kaminer’s request to be pardoned from the military was denied. Her case was then brought before a board that decides whether a candidate is fit for service, which subsequently declared her unfit.

President Reuven Rivlin meets the IDF soldiers awarded for their service on Independence Day, May 12, 2016 (President spokesman's office)
President Reuven Rivlin meets the IDF soldiers awarded for their service on Independence Day, May 12, 2016 (President spokesman’s office)

Kaminer is now serving her sixth stint in military prison, which is set to end in three weeks time, but she can appeal to be released earlier, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

In Israel, military service is mandatory for most Jews, with women required to serve for two years and men for three. Exemptions are given for Israelis with mental health problems, the ultra-Orthodox, and pacifists, the army said. Those who receive exemptions have the option of joining the national service program.

Kaminer has said she would be willing to perform national service.

The soon-to-be released objector said in an earlier interview that she grew up in a home where politics was often discussed, and that she has long opposed Israel’s rule over the West Bank. But her decision not to enlist was cemented while spending a year after high school volunteering with children in Sderot, an Israeli town on the border with the Gaza Strip. Sderot has been hit by thousands of rockets fired from Gaza over the years and has been on the front lines of three Israeli wars against Hamas terrorists.

She said she saw a lot of “hate” among Sderot’s children toward Arabs, and concluded that Palestinian children in Gaza have a “good reason” to feel the same toward Israelis.

Israeli girls wait for transportation in a bus stop protected with concrete blocks near the southern Israeli town of Sderot, next to the Israel-Gaza border, June 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israeli girls wait for transportation in a bus stop protected with concrete blocks near the southern Israeli town of Sderot, next to the Israel-Gaza border, June 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

“We are creating generations of hate on both sides that will only make the situation worse,” she said. “If we don’t stop it, we must oppose it.”

Mesarvot, a group that assists conscientious objectors, says the longest jail term in history was to a man who was imprisoned for 23 months over a decade ago. In most cases, objectors are eventually deemed unfit to serve and dismissed, it said.

There are typically fewer than 10 such cases a year, the army says.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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