Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly delivered a sharp rebuke, even raising his voice considerably, to IDF and especially Air Force commanders, for calling the preparedness of the army into question in public, Israel's Channel 13 news reported on Sunday.
Netanyahu's statements were reportedly made during a phone conference with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and high-ranking IDF commanders on Friday after the prime minister delayed a vacation with his wife in order to confer with Halevi.
“You’re compromising Israel's military deterrence. Why are you putting out headlines like this?” Netanyahu said.
“It looks like the army is running the country,” he reportedly berated them.
Halevi was quoted as replying, “It is our duty to warn when the army’s readiness is at risk.”
The prime minister's rebuke came after the latest publicly reported statement by an IDF officer, this time by Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar who on Friday told a group of protesting pilots that the damage in terms of operational preparedness was “deepening” and that the Air Force will “no longer be the same.”
Regarding reports that Netanyahu raised his voice, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) stated that “even when the prime minister speaks aggressively, he doesn’t yell, he delivers his comments and orders in a professional manner.”
On Sunday, Israeli media reported that Halevi, along with the heads of Mossad Intelligence and the Shin Bet security agency, was planning to release a public statement about the military’s readiness and competence as a result of the ongoing judicial reform protests.
However, soon after the publication of that story, all three heads released statements denying the report.
Some Israeli media even suggested that the delay in Netanyahu’s vacation was due to the release of the report.
Netanyahu met with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF commanders on Sunday to discuss the IDF's readiness.
The PMO later stated that "Everyone participating in the meeting agreed that disagreements and politics must be left out of the IDF" and stressed that the meeting was routine and had taken place "many times in recent weeks."
Gallant later spoke with new IDF recruits, telling them that he was working to maintain the IDF’s cohesion.
“I am not ignoring the problem, together with the chief of staff and the general staff, I am working every day to find a way to connect everyone and maintain competence and cohesion,” Gallant told the recruits.
At the end of March, Gallant publicly called to pause the reform plans over concerns about harm to the army's preparedness and was fired by Netanyahu for the move, but was reinstated two weeks later after a public outcry.
IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari admitted last week there has been “limited damage” to military operations as a result of the judicial reform conflict.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.