Due to Gaza… US Soldiers Refuse to Serve in the Military

Two pilots in the US military have requested “conscientious objector” status due to their country’s support for Israel in its ongoing war in Gaza.

According to NBC News, the death of six-year-old Hinde Rajab in February, who was killed by Israeli army fire and drew international condemnation, prompted American pilot Larry Hebert Jr. to seek “conscientious objector” status.

The soldier, who worked directly on an American operation to provide arms sales to Israel, said Hinde resembled his daughter, making it very difficult for him to understand. He stated that all these children have aspirations and dreams, and “there is no justification for supporting what is happening.”

The same was true for American pilot Juan Betancourt, who, after seeing footage of death and destruction in Gaza, said he “could no longer ignore the US government’s role in the war, including its supply of arms and diplomatic and intelligence cover.”

Betancourt added, during an interview in San Antonio, Texas, “I see the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, all while the world watches through their smartphones.”

He explained that witnessing the destruction up close was the “driver” behind his decision to become a “conscientious objector,” asserting that he is not alone in feeling this way.

He continued, “I certainly hope our leaders see that the war crimes happening, and the thousands of videos of mutilated children reaching our phones, are changing the conscience of the American people, both inside and outside the military.”

He confirmed that the turning point for him was the death of soldier Aaron Bushnell, who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington in protest against the war.

Hebert and Betancourt, who enlisted in 2022, said the extent of the atrocities led them to question their participation in a military system they believe perpetuates a high death toll. They referred to the Israeli aggression on Gaza as “genocide,” and stated that the scenes from the region impact not only them but many Americans as well.

According to NBC, the US Air Force has handled 36 conscientious objector requests since the beginning of 2021, approving 29 of them.

What is Conscientious Objection?

According to the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), “conscientious objection is a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, based on religious or moral principles.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that “the right to conscientious objection to military service is based on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief.”

The Commission adds on its website, “The Human Rights Council, and before it, the Human Rights Committee, have recognized the right of every individual to conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”

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