American Israeli Tal Mitnick sentenced to 30 more days for refusing Israeli army service


((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Tal Mitnick, an 18-year-old dual American-Israeli citizen, is beginning his second 30-day sentence for refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli army.

Mitnick had long planned to refuse to serve, citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation. His determination was bolstered by the devastation caused by the Israel-Hamas war, launched on Oct. 7 when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, massacring more than 1,200 people, brutalizing thousands more and abducting more than 240.

More than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Israel says roughly a third of that number are combatants.

“Israel has already lost this war,” Mitnick told The Guardian in a story posted Tuesday, the day he was ordered to return to a recruitment base to enlist for three years of military service as part of Israel’s mandatory draft. “More killing and more violence won’t bring back the lives lost on 7 October. I know people are hurt. Traumatized. But this doesn’t make anything better. To root out extremist ideas from Palestinian society, we must root them out in Israel.”

Refusal to enlist is rare in Israel, where support for the  military is widespread among Israeli Jews and a mandatory term of service — three years for men and two for women — is broadly seen as a patriotic duty and rite of passage. Arab and haredi Orthodox Israelis are exempt from the draft, though small numbers of both sectors enlist voluntarily.

Before Oct. 7, growing numbers of reservists had pledged to absent themselves from duty in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul. But following Hamas’ invasion, nearly all controversy over military service within Israel evaporated and reservists reported en masse for the largest call-up of troops in the country’s history. About a month into the war, a poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute found that more than 90% of Israeli Jews approved of the IDF, as opposed to 17% of Israeli Arabs.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mitnick said he knew he would be tried and sentenced again, as he was when he first reported to the recruitment base in December.

He had a few days of freedom before returning to the base on Tuesday and receiving another sentence. He spoke about the sentence on X, formerly Twitter, where he extended best wishes to a Turkish Cypriot refuser who was beginning his sentence the same day.

“I want to extend my solidarity to Cypriot conscience objector Mustafa Hürben,” he said. “Mustafa and I will both be jailed today (23.1). International solidarity between us is the way to fight against oppressive systems in each of our countries.”

Mitnick has earned extensive coverage in left-leaning media both overseas and in Israel. His refusal is backed by Mesarvot, a support network for Israelis refusing service.

Mitnick’s late father, Josh Mitnick, was a celebrated American Israeli reporter who freelanced for a number of outlets, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.