Israeli army defector on hunger strike for 37 days 24Jun12 June 24, 2012

Ma’an News Agency  -  22 June 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — A former Israeli soldier who defected from the army has been on hunger strike for 37 days, Israeli news site Ynet reported Friday.

The 25-year-old soldier was absent without leave for 950 days and Israeli forces arrested him in March, days before he was set to go on trial.

The unnamed soldier cited financial hardship as the reason for desertion, but Israel’s military denied his petition for release after being arrested.

He has only drunk water for the last 37 days and is now currently hospitalized, Ynet said.

The man’s lawyer says his life is in danger, adding that the Israeli army had rejected a petition to move him to a hospital prison ward.

The Israeli army said in a statement that the soldier was currently standing trial for desertion.

“We regret the way by which he has chosen to deal with the grave charges he faces. He is under the close care of medical professionals,” it said.

The army in Israel is a key social, political and economic institution with a prominent influence in society. Military service is compulsory for both men and women.

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