A military court sentences a young Israeli man who has been dodging the draft for the past seven years to nine months in prison.
Monday's sentence is the harshest noted in the Israeli military code for such an offence. "In Israel, military service is mandatory. It is not subject to debate," said the judge.
Military police have arrested several hundreds young men who have been avoiding their military service. Some were released from custody after the military authorities were to ascertain that they have indeed failed to receive their drafting orders.
The less fortunate were sentences to various two-to-six months in jail for failing to report to the military induction center as ordered.
S., who was deemed has having a combat-ready medical profile of 97, was due to enlist on August of 2001. Several months prior to his intended drafting date, he sent the Military Recruiting Center a letter, explaining he was attending a religious seminary and asking he be exempt from service.
"I'm very busy and have very little time to spare. I have years of studying ahead of me… this is not time for me to be in the army," he wrote. S. was picked up by the Military Police several months ago at a random sweep, with 2,438 missing days of active duty to his name.
The Chief Military Prosecutor's Office asked S.' case be heard before and extended, three-judge panel, which according to the military code can sentence soldiers up to three years in jail.
The trial was eventually presided over by one judge, who applied the maximum sentence allowed in the military code – nine months imprisonment.
The defense objected to the sentence, stating that S. has recently married and is expecting his first child; and therefore the court should opt for a shorter sentence. S. himself was remorseful, telling the court his actions were not malicious and that he fully intended on enlisting as a reservist while continuing his studies.
The judge, however, was less than impressed: "This country could not exist for one single day if the subject of military service was up for debate… This is not a case of a person who truly deserves to be exempt form service, but of an individual who tried – and unfortunately succeeded – on manipulating the system for seven years."