The Knesset plenum on Tuesday passed into law a bill which increases the punishment for incitement against people volunteering in the security forces.

The penal code already sets a prison term of three to 15 years for a person who incites or seeks to persuade a soldier doing compulsory service to desert the army, as well as to anyone giving shelter to such a deserter. The new law equalizes the punishment for those aiding the desertion of a volunteer to those helping a conscript go AWOL.

The bill, proposed by MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud), David Bitan (Likud), Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Camp) and a group of MKs, passed its third and final reading by a vote of 39-9, with one abstention.

Knesset passes law which increases the punishment for incitement against volunteering in the IDF

(MK Yoav Kisch)

The bill`s preface states that ”alongside the increase in enlistment to the IDF and the security forces, a campaign of incitement is being waged, accompanied by threats and physical violence against property and [people] with the purpose of frightening and dissuading anyone who plans to enlist in the IDF, either directly or by inciting against his family or people who are close to him.”

MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List criticized the bill during the debate. ”They want to drag the Christian Arab population into volunteering for the army that is occupying their people,” she said, adding, ”Don’t deceive yourselves, no one is threatening those who volunteer; we have a political argument and serious criticism and we will continue to convey it. We will try to suggest to our young people a path that is total pride and honor, and not to be part of any machine that oppresses our people.”

MK Talab Abu Arar, also from the Joint List, told the plenum, ”I, as a Bedouin Arab, call on all Bedouin Arab soldiers to shuck their uniforms and the policy of home demolitions, land confiscations, and the ban on family reunification, and to return to the struggle against racist policies against Arabs in general and against Bedouin in the Negev in particular.”