Thursday, December 5, 2019

Crime Wave Strikes Israeli Girls

Israelis are Suffering a Spike in Incarcerations of Religious Girls Who Refuse to Capitulate to the Military Draft

By Binyomin Feinberg, Contributor to The Jewish Press*

*  The perspectives and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of The Jewish Press.


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Just recently, we've learned of quite a number of recent incarcerations of religious girls, over their refusal to enlist in the IDF. According to Jewish Law, it is absolutely prohibited for girls to enlist in the military, according to leading authorities from across the Orthodox spectrum. Not to mention forcing girls or women to enlist being absolutely prohibited.  Nonetheless, the government - despite all of the unrelenting dysfunctionality - manages to pursue religious girls for the military draft. THAT is what they are assiduously addressing with increased efficiency while the country is facing unprecedented threats and instability.

In that context, it's all the more crucial for girls to obtain quality guidance to help avoid complications, and to deal with them properly when unavoidable. 

Contacting Chomosaich:

Free information is available by calling the volunteer ladies at "Chomosaich" 03-545-6770 (24/6).   They provide information and advice to girls in danger of Army enlistment, harassment or persecution.  Girls are urged to call before even considering stepping foot into the Draft Office. In fact, it's advisable to contact Chomosaich even before problems arise, to prevent many costly errors made out of sheer ignorance. Chomosaich provides information and guidance to girls from across the spectrum, independent of their level of religious observance. Thousands have benefited from their painstaking work.

About Chomosaich:

Chomosaich provides an approach to obtaining military service exemptions, one that differs from the modus operandi of some of the ladies whom girls may possibly bump into outside the Draft Offices:

1.  Chomosaich ladies generally encourage religious girls to fight for their Religious Exemption, and provide information on how to do so effectively, including properly taking advantage of the game-changing strategy of PR (pirsum)

2. They generally do NOT encourage girls to avail themselves of the "Petur Nafshi" (PN), the (psychological) exemption. This approach provides an additional benefit of avoiding being overcome by a wave of mass disqualification of Petur Nafshi exemptions, a specter possibly alluded to in a recent Maariv article about a crackdown on spiking PN exemptions.

3. Additionally, Chomosaich discourages interviews - e.g. a Rayon Dat, or a plain Rayon - with those seeking to trip up, terrorize, or convince girls to enlist.

4. Chomosaich focuses on strengthening the individual girl, providing her - on an ongoing basis - the chizuk she needs to be inspired to stand strong against government harassment, and even threats of arrest and incarceration.

5.  Chomosaich does acknowledge the importance of legal intervention, but generally only as an adjunct to the chizuk of the girl herself.


Recent Refuseniks:

Examples of recent incarcerations of Refusenik girls follow. There.are others who were recently released, including an 18 y/o religious Ethiopian girl, Simcha S., from Kiryat Malachi, and Udel H., a 19 y/o from Eilat, learning in a Chareidi Seminary in Yerushalayim.

The Israelis were at an advantage in some of these cases, because the advocates who obtained the cases aren't as adept at employing modern PR methods and documentation protocols as are organizations like Shalhevet.

1)  In an interview early this week with a volunteer from the volunteer ladies network "Chomosaich", Miriam Natan, a 19-1/2 y/o baalas teshuva, claims that she recently endured six harrowing days in military prison 6, for failure to send in her religious exemption certification, losing about 5 Kg (over 10 lbs.). Due to kashrus concerns she had, she barely ate for most of her incarceration. Initially, she sought a medical exemption due to a medical condition, but was rebuffed with what she deemed insufficient Army accommodations. When she persisted, and asked to meet a mental health officer, she was placed in solitary confinement. She claims she was initially denied her basic rights to medical care and pain relief medication, as well as denied proper access to necessary hygiene. She reports she was subjected to intolerable emotional abuse as well, and suffered terribly from exposure to the cold. (Keleh 6 is in Northern Israel, where it.can get very cold in the winter.) She reports being treated in a humiliating, even subhuman fashion.

B"H, now Miriam is free, with her petur. She felt that the experience strengthened her closeness to HaShem. Seeing the injustice around her actually strengthened her resolve to shun Army service; why would she want to be part of  such an institution, one that could maintain such an abusive, inhumane facility. 

2,3)  Miriam also reports that there are two additional religious girls remaining in military prison 6, including one (Adina from Be'er Sheva) who has been languishing for over six weeks(!). Apparently, Adina is from the Ukraine.

4) According to Bnos Melech, (a ladies' network to provide assistance to girls in trouble with the IDF, which branched off of Chomosaich around last Pesach), another girl, Shir, is currently in solitary confinement in Military Prison 4. She is considered to be in a predicament that's literally pikuach nefesh. Solitary confinement is excruciatingly difficult, especially for girls, and can exacerbate an already very difficult situation. In the case of Rinat bat Chedva, solitary confinement had clearly been employed as a means of psychological abuse to break the girls (see Jewish Press Dispatch columns of Febuary and March). Solitary confinement was similarly employed against the Bnos Beruria and Lidar Shira bas Yaffa in mid-late June, when arrests and abuse of frum girls spiked similarly (in the wake of Netanyahu appointing the openly practicing homosexual Amir Ohana as Justice Minister).

5) Bnos Melech reports another girl, Hilah bas Adinah, 19 y/o, of a National Religious school, languishing in military prison 4. She has apparently been in dire straights for almost four weeks. At this time, she remains without a private attorney, even though there are those who sponsor legal representation for just such girls.

Reportedly, she was first "offered" to appear before a Vaadah Das ("Religiosity meeting,") ostensibly to help her try to secure the religious exemption to which she should be entitled. That offer was subsequently denied by the government prosecution. Perhaps the government feels that they can persecute her with impunity because she, like many of those girls targeted by the Army, are from disadvantaged backgrounds, with little visible assistance, thus easy targets.

6) It was reported that another girl, Donna bas Haddas, 20 y/o, has been in military prison number 4 for over three weeks. However, reportedly, she has a decent attorney. 



B"H, in a landmark development, on Nov. 26, Maitav (the military draft offices) sent a letter of notification of religious exemption from military service to the attorney of Avigail Leah H.. Miss H. is a 17y/o Chabad girl learning in an elite, non-religious, but religious-sensitive environment, suited to her needs. Due to that, the Army insisted she undergo a Rayon Dat (a "Religiosity Interview"), even though there's no question about her religiosity.  Miss H. has been steadfast, braving months of Army threats of arrest, in her refusal to enlist in the IDF - or make any Halachic compromises in the process, including submitting to a Rayon Dat. Often, the Rayon is a hazard-laden interrogation process, geared to trip up girls, done without benefit of legal representation or even an accompanying party. 

Her attorney bypassed the Draft Office, and got a favorable result from a direct approach to the IDF legal authorities themselves. The attorney argued that the IDF has no basis to require a Rayon Dat, inasmuch her religiosity in not in question. The Draft Offices subsequently acquiesced to the family's request, while specifically avoiding conceding defeat on the broader legal issues at stake.  Nevertheless, practically speaking, this win should inspire thousands of girls, and their advocates, to insist on fighting on principle.

Avigail's persistence in refusing to compromise on Halacha wasn't easy, but it certainly paid off. As the Vilna Gaon is quoted: "The persistent prevail."

For Background on this case see:


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