Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Israeli soldier behind bars over Gaza refusal: group

AFP , JERUSALEM

An Israeli army reservist has been sentenced to a fortnight in solitary confinement for refusing to participate in the ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip, an advocacy group said on Monday.

The army denied the claim, saying there was never any question of sending the man to Gaza, although it confirmed he was handed a one-week jail term.

The 35-year-old, who was not named, disobeyed a call-up order to protest the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed since the Dec. 27 start of Israel’s war on Hamas, according Ometz Lesarev — Hebrew for “Courage to Refuse.”

He would be the first soldier sentenced to solitary confinement for refusing to serve since the start of the offensive, which has so far left more than 900 Palestinians dead.

Ometz Lesarev said he was one of three reservists who had contacted the organization for advice after refusing to serve in Gaza. The other two had reached an amicable agreement with their commander not to take part in combat.

An army spokesman said: “He was not a combat soldier and would have never been sent to Gaza. He refused to go on a professional course for personal reasons, and then this whole thing got completely blown out of proportion.”

The spokesman said the man had been sentenced to a week in jail for being absent without leave, but did not know if it was in solitary confinement.

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