Meaning of a stamp on a passport showing "Section 50," and possible penalties for desertion [ISR40006.E]

The information that follows was provided by consular staff at the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa during a 17 September 2002 telephone interview.

A stamp on an Israeli passport indicating "Section 50" means that the person is due for reporting to the army regarding military service. This does not mean that the person must perform military service then: it refers to persons residing or travelling to reside outside Israel, but who has reached an age at which he must report his status to the army. In other words, it means that the holder of the passport would be required to register and perform military service only if he resided in Israel, but because he is not residing in Israel, he needs to speak to the army to let it know of his status. The consular staff indicated that the presence of this stamp on a passport does not indicate that the person has deserted or otherwise broken Israeli law.

No details on prescribed penalties for desertion in Israel could be found among the sources consulted.

The only recent reference found on a case of desertion and its accompanying penalty is from the daily Arutz Sheva:

The most serious incident, from Israel's point of view, came on Friday when a deputy company commander deserted his post, complaining that the checkpoint he and his men were assigned to man was unsafe. He later explained, "This was an attempt to cry out for help so that the people on top will realize that this is a matter of life and death." He was sentenced to 28 days in army prison. Many soldiers later acknowledged that safety conditions were not adequate, but sharply condemned the act of desertion (25 Feb. 2002) .

For reference, please find attached a copy of a document published by the Ministry of Justice of Israel titled "Israel's Policy on Selective Conscientious Objection" and currently (17 Sept. 2002) posted on the Legal Issues section of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and a 1999 press release from Amnesty International on the issue of conscientious objection

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Arutz Sheva [Israel]. 25 February 2002. "Tension at the Checkpoints." [Accessed 17 Sept. 2002]

Embassy of Israel, Ottawa. 17 September 2002. Telephone interview with consular staff.


Amnesty International, London. 2 September 1999. Israel: The Price of Conscience." (AI INDEX: MDE 15/67/99) [Accessed 17 Sept. 2002]

Ministry of Justice, Israel. 25 May 1993. "Israel's Policy on Selective Conscientious Objection." [Accessed 17 Sept. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports 1995-2001. 1996-2002.

IRB Databases.


The Passport Handbook.

Travel Information Manual (TIM).

Internet sites and search engines, including:

Amnesty International.

Government of Israel.

Human Rights Watch.

UNHCR Refworld.


This list is not exhaustive. Country and subject-specific publications available at the Resource Centre are not included.