The Ecumenical Accompaniment supports, through people from different parts of the world, Israelis and Palestinians who are working for a just peace. The program is hoping, through international presence, to decrease the violence, providing hope that a peaceful solution is possible, to promote respect for international law and broadening the awareness about the occupation consequences for Israelis and Palestinians. www.foljeslagarprogrammet.se
Samuel is also a member of the collective Gandhi
(The Swedish original text is published at http://foljeslagarprogrammet.se/reserapport/de-israeliska-protesterna)
Palestinians who are working for justice face difficulties because of the occupation. For Israelis, it is the taboos and norms that make it difficult. But I have met some of them who goes against the current.
I'm sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv and talking with Sara Mizrahi.  Sara is 19 years, ie the age when most Israelis, men and women, start their military service. She does not want to do her military service. She says she wants a two-state solution and that the occupation is immoral and not conducive to peace.
Sara says that there is a social taboo not to do military service. There are a few who publicly say they refuse military service and may be in jail because of it. I wonder what she will do.
"I do not want to end up in jail. If I can get off without going to jail, it's good, "said Sara.
It is possible to avoid military service for various reasons, but can be difficult. Sara says she is a pacifist, which may be an acceptable reason for exception, but there are very few exceptions granted on that basis.
"But if you will not qualify for exemption, what will you do", I ask.
"I don't know," she says, smiling. "But I do not want to support the occupation."
Sara says she is helped by the organization New Profile  which helps young Israelis who want to avoid military service. I ask her what her family and friends think.
"My dad supports me. He still thinks I should do military service, but is behind me anyway", says Sara.
But Sara says she does not want to go out with her position publicly as others have done. She does not want to be seen with the name and picture in the Israeli media. It is understandable because the situation of those who criticized the recent war on Gaza is dangerous.  I do not want to put her in a vulnerable and intimidating situation so I don't ask her if I can take a photo.
A week after the meeting with Sara, I listen to a lecture by Shay Davidovich, an Israeli 27-year-old man who grew up in the settlement Ariel, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank. He says that when he grew up, he did not understand where the Palestinians in villages around the settlement came from. He did not know that they had lived there for many generations, long before 1948, when the state of Israel was created.
Shay said that when he did his military service in the West Bank, one of his first assignment was to chase a naked Palestinian child five years old because the child had come too close to the settlement he was guarding. It was then that he began to question the occupation. Now he's involved with Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Palestinian occupied territories.  He talks about how the soldiers have been tasked to "show their presence" in the Palestinian villages and towns. The soldiers can get an order to go in the middle of the night to arrest a man, put on him a blindfold and bind his hands behind his back. After the mission is completed, they may find out that it was just an exercise. But that is nothing that the Palestinian man will know about.
"As a soldier, you can do anything," says Shay.
One of the testimonies I read of soldiers stuck with me. It was from a soldier who had stopped a man outside Yatta, who drove a truck with 2,000 liters of milk, and detained him for several hours so that the milk became sour in the heat. When I read about the things that soldiers have done and that they bitterly regret, I really understand that this conflict is devastating to both peoples. The soldier says:
"Okay, I didn’t actually pick the money out of his pocket, but what I did simply made him lose all that money. And for me this is even less significant than the personal attitude issue. It’s wrong. I mean, what’s the big deal? He’s no terrorist, no wanted man, not a person who comes along and threatens me physically, or points some gun at me. A regular guy. What did he do? He was at the wrong place at the wrong time? Perhaps on the larger scale that’s a fateful issue. Maybe, okay. But as for personal responsibility, what was gained by my actions? Nothing at all. Did they actually serve State security? No. This was pure and simple injustice inflicted upon a human being. And that’s wrong. "
1. Sara is not her real name
2. New profile – Movement for the Demilitarization of Israeli Society http://newprofile.org/english
3. How freedom of speech was crushed during Protective Edge, 972 Magazine http://972mag.com/how-freedom-of-speech-was-crushed-during-protective-edge/96179/
4. Our harsch logic, Breaking the silence http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/publications
5. Soldiers Testimonies from the South Hebron Hills, page 24