skip navigation

 [support this site, start all your shopping here]

add refusenik watch to your site
add it to your site

ariel sharon short story contest
the contest


civil resistance in lebanon



How Many Refuseniks?

Refusenik Watch autoupdate banners reflect the number of signers on all five Israeli CO pledges, as well as the number of those jailed who did not endorse an organization.


updated 11 Jul. 2004

Five groups of conscientious objectors to the occupation are currently active in Israel:

  • Yesh-Gvul (There Is A Limit), established during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the group offers support to imprisoned COs and to their families.
  • The Shministim (high school seniors - web site no longer around), made their appeal public in the summer of 2001. The most radical of the groups, these youngsters made a point of having Palestinians and women in their activist core. Several of the signers have been imprisoned for outstandingly long periods.
  • The Courage To Refuse (The Combatants Letter) pledge makes up about half of all the refuseniks. The group went into action after the outbreak of the 2nd Intifada. Wearing the flag on their sleeves, members of this group make a point of its loyalty to Zionism, and try to keep a mainstream distance from the other groups.
  • The Pilots group (web site no longer around) published its letter of refusal in September 2003 (their web site is currently Hebrew only).
  • Sayeret Matkal - members of this elite commando unit have written to the Prime Minister to let him know they will not serve the occupation. They do not currently keep a web site.

At least 267 Conscientious objectors have been imprisoned for obeying their conscience, totaling in at least 11,851 days in military jails. Activists have documented interviews with 77 prisoners of conscience who refused to serve the occupation withougt signing any of the pledges mentioned above.

The NUMBERS are based on a comprehensive refusenik list (see "related") that I compile regularly from the lists published online by Yesh-Gvul, the Shministim, Courage To Refuse, and the Pilots, as well as information supplied by Yesh Gvul and New Profile. The list is kept public as evidence to the accuracy of the Refusenik Watch banners. Since three of the groups do not translate their lists of endorsements into English, the list is currently available in Hebrew only.

The new autoupdate banner is offered in 3 flavors, Hebrew, English, and English. HTML code ready-to-paste into your site/ blog/ forum or email signature is also available here.

A historical version reflecting the smaller number of Courage To Refuse endorsers only, is kept available at the request of Courage To Refuse activists.

What's the right number?

The larger number.


Because the smaller number banner does not include hundreds of refuseniks (and hundreds of imprisoned refuseniks) who signed a declaration other than the Courage To Refuse letter, and dozens of refuseniks who did not make any public declaration.

So why the small number?

Historically, this banner was created when only Courage To Refuse had made public their list of endorsers. No longer alone with an online list, Courage To Refuse still wishes to emphasize its separateness from the other groups by keeping a separate banner.