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Defense minister says 'Reservist boycott threat endangers IDF'

Refusal to serve ‘not legitimate protest,’ says Gallant

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at an IDF officers graduation ceremony, June 28, 2023. (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned officers at an Israel Defense Forces graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening that reservists who refuse to show up for military service as a form of protest against the Israeli government are posing a danger to the IDF organization. 

“We must not allow anyone to use the IDF as a tool in political campaigns or as part of inflammatory statements by anonymous people," Gallant said, referring to reservists who have threatened to not show up for duty to protest the government's judicial reforms. "The calls for refusal and the threats to stop volunteering undermine the basic values ​​of the IDF as the people’s army, and endanger its competence."

"Anyone who calls for refusal is not acting as part of a legitimate protest, by doing so he is harming the most important thing we have — the security of the State of Israel,” he told the graduating cadets. 

On Tuesday, the Brothers in Arms protest group called the coalition’s bill to reduce the “reasonableness” clause “a nuclear bomb on democracy.” 

A group of Israeli Air Force reservist pilots sent an open letter to Gallant on Wednesday stating that “if the law to abolish the reasonableness clause, or any other law that is part of the legal reform, passes a third reading of the Knesset, we will be forced to immediately stop our volunteering for reserve service.” 

The group argues that such legislation “allows unlimited power to the government.” 

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the graduation ceremony, where he emphasized that defending the Jewish nation against its enemies is the IDF's first priority.

“It is important for me to emphasize precisely these days – our enemies do not distinguish between this camp and another. Between rightists and leftists, between secular and religious or ultra-Orthodox. They also make no distinction between Jews and non-Jews; as far as they are concerned, we are all targets of harm, and more than that, targets of annihilation,” he said, adding that the country must stand united in defense, without threatening to refuse service. 

“And so we must all stand together to defend our country. There is not and will not be room for refusal, neither on this side nor on any side. We have one state, we have one army, and we have one home. We will guard the house as brothers and sisters – and if the day comes, we will stand up for the flag united and determined like a crushing fist," he concluded. 

There had been some concern about a large-scale protest at the ceremony following Netanyahu’s announcement that he would continue to pursue judicial reform, however, there were no incidents reported. In a published photo at the event, a few attendees could be seen with their backs turned to Netanyahu during his speech.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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