Richard Melson

May 2006

Yesh Gvul: Israel

Designed by David Tartakover for Yesh Gvul

http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/about_e.asp

www.yeshgvul.org.il

Yesh Gvul

www.yeshgvul.org.il

972-2-6250271

PO Box 6953, Jerusalem 91068, ISRAEL

Yesh Gvul ("There is a limit !")

is an Israeli peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature. The brutal role of the Israeli army in subjugating the Palestinian population places numerous servicemen in a grave moral and political dilemma, as they are required to enforce policies they deem illegal, immoral and ultimately harmful to Israeli interests. The army hierarchy demands compliance, but many soldiers, whether conscripts or reservists, find that they cannot in good conscience obey the orders of their superiors.
Yesh Gvul arose in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, as growing numbers of soldiers grasped that the campaign, with its bloodshed and havoc, was an act of naked and futile aggression in which they wanted no part.
168 servicemen were jailed, some repeatedly, for refusing to serve in the campaign: the actual number of refusals was far greater, but their rising numbers deterred the army from prosecuting most of the refuseniks. The first Palestinian intifada in 1987 likewise prompted further refusals, with close on 200 jailed, though the army again backed down from jailing many of the recalcitrant soldiers, indicating that refusals were significantly more numerous. A notably high ratio of refuseniks are combat officers (ranking from sergeant to major) i.e. soldiers who have served with distinction.

From the outset, Yesh Gvul has fostered the refusal movement. Defying official intimidation - including close surveillance by police and security services - we counsel soldiers wrestling with the painful choice between serving policies they find abhorrent, or defying military discipline. Those who elect to refuse get our full moral and material backing, ranging from financial support for families of jailed refuseniks, to vigils at the military prisons where they were held. Whenever a refusenik is jailed, we bring his protest to the public notice, as a model for the broader peace movement, and for other soldiers in a similar dilemma.

Yesh Gvul is a small group with limited resources, human and financial. But the
unique thrust of its campaign has galvanized the broader peace movement, inspiring it with the moral example set by individuals prepared to suffer for their convictions. Some peace movements confine themselves to verbal protest, balking at refusal and its direct challenge to authority. But Yesh Gvul rejects the "shoot-and-cry" syndrome; its own slogan advocates action: "We don’t shoot, we don’t cry, and we don’t serve in the occupied territories !" - setting the group in the vanguard of the Israeli peace movement.

With members drawn from a range of political views, Yesh Gvul is not bound to any specific peace program. Its overall aim is to combat the misuse of the IDF (Israel Defense Force !) for unworthy ends, and terminate the occupation. The group is united on the "two-state" solution, as the key to peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the interests of both peoples.

To read and sign the refusal petition for Israeli soldiers or future draftees, see: http://www.yeshgvul.org/refusal


How Can One Support us?
Contributions can be sent to our address, or via the Refuser Solidarity Network or transferred directly to our bank account.

*Address: Yesh Gvul, PO Box 6953, Jerusalem 91068, ISRAEL
Telephone: + 972 2 6250271


*In the United States you can make a tax deductible donation by sending a check to:

Refuser Solidarity Network
P.O. Box 53474
Washington DC
20009-9474
(202) 232-1100

Please write "Yesh Gvul" on the memo line!

Or you can do the same with a secure credit card
donation, through Refuser Solidarity Network.
Select "Yesh Gvul Projects" in the box titled
""Projects you would like to support


*Address for bank transfers (This option is less useful for small sums) :
Bank Account: Yesh Gvul, Acct no. 366614. Bank
Hapoalim, King George St. Branch (690), Jerusalem, Israel ,
Transfer Code (important) : TOALILITJLM

For other ways to support the refusal campaign, See the Adoption Groups section and the "other things you can do" page on the bottom of the News section.

Receive Updates about Our Actions
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Hello

The time has come again, albeit a bit late, to report our activities and ask for your support this year. In the past, year, as before, we initiated, organized and participated in numerous actions. In this update, we wish to share our experience and ask you to join us, in order to act together against the corrupt and corrupting occupation, and promote a peaceful solution which will benefit all residents of this land. Needless to say, any assistance, support or donation would be most welcome

*The Refusal Index :

Last year, more than in previous years, it turned out that the IDF abstained from imprisoning refusers. In spite of the rise in the number of refusers, only 9 draftees and 7 soldiers were imprisoned for refusing to take part in the occupation. During many months last year no occupation refusers were in prison .

Traditionally, we have been operating in three dimensions: personal support of refusers - as a kind of "labour union" of refusers , political action towards ending the occupation, and public education as a tool for social change .

*Personal Support of Refusers :

Due to the low number of imprisonments, fewer prison vigils took place, and the Yesh Gvul Fund was less active .

*Prison Vigils :

When refusers were imprisoned, we kept up our tradition of holding solidarity vigils in front of military prisons. These vigils were joined by members and supporters of other refuser groups. Vigils took place on 2/4/05 , 2/7/05, 22/10/05 and on a few other occasions. When new refusers are imprisoned, we shall return to the mountain overlooking military prison 6 or the fence surrounding military prison 4. Photos from previous solidarity vigils can be viewed on our website.

Hotline for soldiers and draftees: The line has been active for 24 years. Anyone who needs information about refusal can consult us before they decide what to do.

*Supporting Families of Refusers:

Last year, as before, we continued to assist families of refusers in prison.

*Yesh Gvul Fund:

For 24 years the fund has assisted refusers who run into financial difficulties in case they do not receive their salary or the social security payment. Due to the low number of imprisonments, the fund supported only 2 refusers in need, and paid a total sum of 4620 NIS. Please note that in spite of the fact that the fund supports ALL refusers, regardless of their organizational affiliation, Yesh Gvul is the ONLY group which funds this fund.

*Political Action towards Ending the Occupation:

*Anti-Occupation Vigils: As one of the groups in the peace camp, we continued to initiate and participate in demonstrations against the occupation, and against the separation wall. During the last months of the year we participated in the "Harvest Coalition" and our members, along with members of numerous organizations, helped in harvesting olives in the occupied territories. In addition, we initiated and participated in petitions and protest ads against the occupation.

*Hearings at the Supreme Court:

We started the campaign against the automatic immunity granted to IDF officers who take part in alleged war crimes in the petition against General Dan Halutz. The supreme court heard our petition, filed in cooperation with prominent Israeli public figures (Nathan Zach, Sami Michael, Ronit Matalon, Amos Keinan, Yitzhak Laor and others), and presented by attorneys Sfard and Feldman. We asked for an order nisi to cancel the decision by the senior military attorney and the state attorney not to start a criminal investigation to check whether criminal acts had taken place in the planning and execution of the killing of Hamas activist Salech Mustafa Shechade in Gaza city in 22/7/02. 15 people were killed in this action and scores were wounded, due to the use of a one ton bomb in the heart of a densely populated neighborhood. The Supreme Court is yet to rule on this matter.

*Public Education as the Means to Social Change

Ending the age of immunity: The central educational topic for yesh Gvul nowadays is war crimes and the IDF's "targeted assassination" policy. The Shechade case is the main example.

*Public Education as the Means to Social Change

Ending the Age of Immunity: The central educational topic for Yesh Gvul nowadays is war crimes and the IDF's "targeted killing" policy. The main case on which we have focused was the dropping of the 1-Ton bomb on a residential area in Gaza in July 2002, a bomb which was supposed to "thwart" Hamas' senior activist Salach Shechade. With him 14 other people were killed 14 (of which 9 were children and infants), and about 150 other civilians were wounded.

We considered the unbearable ease of the mass killing of innocent civilians, and could not understand the decision-making process which allows the dropping of a 1000-kg bomb on a densly populated neighbourhood. Therefore, we asked the Chief Military Attorney to order an investigation. The Attorney's reply was that he will not do so. A second request to reexamine his decision not to investigate was rejected as well. Since in a democratic society citizens are not supposed to just hang around while war crimes are taking place, we appealed – in September 2003 – the Supreme Court of Justice, Israel's highest juridical instance, and asked it to order the State's Attorney General and the Chief Military Attorney to start an investigation. The court made a note of the appeal. In September 2005, during the last session dedicated to the appeal, we heared the words of Hon. Judge Heshin who "freezed" the discussion of the appeal until an unknown date. After two years of ongoing requests to start an investigation we concluded that all these delays are not accidental. We reached the conclusion that the Israeli law authorities – both civil and military – shirk their duty and are not willing to provide any legal aid to those horrified by the military's conduct in the occupied territories.

we understood that those responsible for – or suspect of – committing war crimes might remain uninterrogated, hence not be punished, because of the legal system's evasion from dealing with these issues. therefore, facing a legal system which refuses to discuss the issue, we publicly supported addressing non-israeli courts – whether international or of other nations – so those suspect of committing war crimes will not go without investigation and punishment. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog's hiding in the airplane in order to avoid being arrested in England; the charge sheet presented to Avi Dichter (former head of the General Security Service) and Maj. Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon in the United States and the Chief Military Attorney's recommendation to Brig. Avib Kohavi not to visit the UK – all these mark the end of the age of sweeping immunity for the IDF's officers and soldiers.

The beginning of legal processes abroad and the justified apprehension of many senior IDF officers regarding going to Europe and the US are only one part of the story. the other part is what IDF soldiers should do when receiving orders which might be suspected as orders to commit war crimes. Therefore we launched a public campaign about The End of the Era of Immunity, preparing a pocket booklet about war crimes to be distributed to soldiers.

Conferences:

The first main conference we held this year was a moral preparation to service in the IDF, held as a part of the Activism Festival. Speakers from groups such as "Breaking the Silence", "Seniors' Highschool Letter" and "MachsomWatch" all took part in the event which included testimonies by soldiers and observers on the happenings in the territories as well as discussions about the democratic right to refuse and the duties of citizens in democracy. It was accompanied by singers and bands preforming protest songs.

The second conference dealt with war crimes and the sweeping immunity given to soldiers and officers of the IDF. It took place at the Sokolov House in Tel Aviv on September 27 th, moderated by journalist Dani Rubinstein. Discussing the issue were Prof. Moshe Zimmermann, Prof. Menahem Hoffnung, Adv. Michael Sfard and Dr. Ishai Menuchin.

Alternative Beacon Lighting Ceremony

On Wednesday, 11/05/2005, eve of Independence day, we held for the 8th time an alternative beacon lighting ceremony at the Emil Gruenzweig Square, in front of the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. we lighted he beacons for a more just, more equal and more moral society in Israel; for the immediate stopping of the needless war and the occupation of the territories, for repairing the unjustice we do, for improving the way we treat the weak among us and the for peace with all our neighbours.

This year the beacons were lit by: Smadar Ben Natan (Lawyer); Hayim Bar-am (Journalist); Nurit Hajaj (the oriental democratic rainbow); Zeev Tene' (food engineer and a rock poet); Ruhama Marton (founder and president of "Physicians for Human Rights"); Alex Luebeck (press photographer and Israel prize laureate for photography); Zohar Milchgrub (Yesh Gvul); Shimri Tzameret (conscientious prisoner); Shaul Tzfani (Chairperson of the Metrodan workers' union); Anna Shlonski (the Seniors' Letter). Artists who played music : David Beinart, Yair Dalal, El-ad Horwitz and Noam Faust.

Yesh Gvul in Writing:

During the last year we began to edit a book about "occupation and refusal", which is supposed to be published this coming June, in November Books, first in Hebrew, and later in other languages (please contact us if you need more info).

Distribution of Leaflets to Soldiers:

This year we continued to distribute leaflets to soldiers, asking them to think about the implications of their actions as soldiers in the occupied territories.

Finally, our expenditures this year for political and educational action were 145,000 NIS. together with the Yesh Gvul Fund's support for jailed refuseniks, the total amount of our expenditures was 149,600 NIS.

All our income is dedicated to activities and supporting the prisoners. Yesh Gvul does not hold any office, neither does it have any paid workers – we are all volunteers! If you would like to join us and take part in our activities – prison solidarity vigils, leaflets distributions, accomanying families of prisoners or house meetings of value-preparation tio the IDF – please contact us.

If you live outside Israel, you can help us in various ways: financial support, adopting an imprisoned refusenik (contact us for details) , and lobbying against the occupation and your government's policies on the issue..

We would like to thank all our supporters who help us and contribute to our activities.

Contributions can be sent to our address, or via the Refuser Solidarity Network or transferred directly to our bank account.

*Address:

Yesh Gvul, PO Box 6953, Jerusalem 91068, ISRAEL
Telephone: + 972 2 6250271


*In the United States you can make a tax deductible donation by sending a check to:

Refuser Solidarity Network
P.O. Box 53474
Washington DC
20009-9474
(202) 232-1100

Please write "Yesh Gvul" on the memo line!

Or you can do the same with a secure credit card
donation, through Refuser Solidarity Network.
Select "Yesh Gvul Projects" in the box titled
""Projects you would like to support

*Address for bank transfers (This option is less useful for small sums) :
Bank Account: Yesh Gvul, Acct no. 366614. Bank
Hapoalim, King George St. Branch (690), Jerusalem, Israel ,
Transfer Code (important) : TOALILITJLM

in order to receive updates from us (not everyday, just once in a while!),

send a blank e-mail to:

yeshgvul-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

in order to stop receiving the updates, send a blank e-mail to:

yeshgvul-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Dear Friend

1. Our alternative beacon lighting ceremony was sucessful, even though we had a problem with our generator. The statements delivered by the beacon lighters will be available (In Hebrew only, for now...) on our website soon. Due to the generator malfunction, some of them had to deliver their statements in a somewhat loud voice...

2. We would like to point your attention to a new book which we will publish soon, first in Hebrew, and later, hopefully, in other languages.

Information in Hebrew is already available here:

http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/articles.asp?id=fb919302d870755a0de993c71071bfa8

And an order form is available here:

http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/info.asp?id=9298dcf90574192b5a5db23ed28b7446

Also see:

http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/articles.asp?id=fb919302d870755a0de993c71071bfa8

http://www.yeshgvul.org.il/info.asp?id=9298dcf90574192b5a5db23ed28b7446

3. We are attaching an annual summary of Yesh Gvul's activity in 2005

(better late than never!).

We hope you take the time to read it, provide feedback and think of ways in which you can participate with us in the struggle against the occupation and for a better society in Israel.

Thanks

The Yesh Gvul Team

Yesh Gvul

www.yeshgvul.org.il

972-2-6250271

PO Box 6953, Jerusalem 91068, ISRAEL

Thanks For Your Support!

The Yesh Gvul Team

[Yesh-Gvul] New Book, Annual Summary of Yesh Gvul Activites

Attachment:  annual05-English.doc (0.04 MB) annual05-hebrew.doc (0.04 MB)

yesh gvul yeshgvul2001@yahoo.com

Monday, May 15, 2006