Canadian-Israeli woman jailed for not fulfilling military service

(JTA) — A woman with Canadian and Israeli citizenship is under arrest and jailed in Israel allegedly for failing to fulfill her military service.
Yana Gorelik traveled from Canada to Israel two weeks ago to attend her cousin’s wedding and visit family, reports the Toronto Star.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Instead, she was arrested and has been held in an Israeli army prison since then without bail.

Israel is accusing Gorelik, a 30-year-old with dual Canadian-Israeli citizenship, of deserting the Israeli military after moving to Toronto with her family when she was 17.

Gorelik’s family said she visited Israel in 2010 and 2011 without incident. But on arriving in Israel on Sept. 2 with her fiancé, Israeli authorities told her to report to an army base the next day to sign paperwork and settle her affairs with the military. Once she got to the base, she was arrested and brought to prison in central Israel, the Star reported.

Her court hearing has been postponed twice and is set to take place Thursday. Her family and lawyer attempted to get her released for a few days over the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which starts Sunday night, but the prison denied their request.

The Israeli army claims that after she received her draft order when she was 17, Gorelik was legally obligated to report for two years of military service, which is standard for women who do not have exemptions.

“She left Israel without trying to initiate any process to get out of it,” Eytan Buchman, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, was quoted as telling the Star.

Gorelik’s family says she attempted to settle her affairs with the Israeli army in 2007. The IDF says there is information on file showing Gorelik visited Israel that year, but would not elaborate.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Friday that Zeev Bielski, a Knesset member for the opposition Kadima Party, is urging Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to release Gorelik before the start of Rosh Hashanah.

Israeli Military Police began an operation in May to arrest thousands of army deserters and draft dodgers, including several foreigners, the Star reported.

“Like” JTA on Facebook for Jewish news updates!

Click to write a letter to the editor.