Hadas Tal, 18, Israël
“In Israel, military service is mandatory. Women have to serve 2 years and men 3. I refused it for political reasons because I am against the occupation and didn’t want to cooperate. Around 2 million Palestinians live under Israeli military law and don’t have citizenship or citizen rights (voting for example). So I went to jail for 2 months. Prison experience is very different depending on the person. I was never victim of violence but it does happen. While I was there a guy escaped because he got beaten by guards. Once, they raided my cell and went over all of my belongings. They also read all of my writings and confiscated those which contained details about prison life. I realized how ignorant people can be about our situation in Israel, especially young people. A woman that I met who served in occupied territory didn’t even know what the word “occupation” meant !
I hope more young Israeli young people will not only think about the meaning of the service but also what is occupation in our country and what you can do about it. This experience enabled me to meet women I would have not meet otherwise. Most of them came from underprivileged backgrounds. Before entering jail I was put in detention for 28 hours during which I was totally isolated. It felt like eternity. Even though I knew what I was going for when I took my decision, I sometimes felt scared, hungry and tired. I never showed it because I didn’t want to show my weakness. In the bus going to prison I panicked and cried but no one could see me there. I had to keep on so I was repeating to myself that it was ok to be afraid. Once arrived they let me call my mum for a short moment. It felt so good, it was precious. Feeling the “outside” through that call felt amazing. It is not easy to describe isolation because we never have to face it. I understood then how the physical world could shape your feelings. After those two months I got an official exemption for “not fitting in”. Now I have a much deeper understanding of what a lot of people go through (unfair imprisonment, political persecution).”