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IDF chief worried growing reservist protests will undermine army’s operational capabilities

Defense minister shares the IDF chief’s concerns

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, Jan. 18, 2023 (Photo: GPO)

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he is worried that protests against the government’s judicial reforms could spread among military reservists and undermine the army’s operational capabilities. 

“I’m very worried by the spread of refusal to serve and of the discussion about the refusal to serve. Already, this could harm the IDF’s operational capacity,” Halevi reportedly told Netanyahu. 

Some 37 out of 40 reserve pilots for the elite 69th Squadron recently informed the Israeli Air Force command that they would not participate in a training session scheduled for Wednesday. The pilots stressed that they would be available for operational missions. 

Veterans of Unit 8200, an elite IDF intelligence unit, threatened to boycott reserve duty to protest the reforms, and all the IAF’s commanders, active or retired, signed a joint letter against the reforms. Air Force commanders include 102-year-old retired veteran Gen. Dan Tolkowsky, who led the IAF in 1953-1958. 

Many IDF soldiers and pilots are concerned that the potential weakening of the judiciary would leave them more exposed to prosecution by the International Criminal Court. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant shares the IDF chief’s concern that protests by Israel’s reservists could harm the army’s operational capabilities. 

“The situation today requires us to talk, and quickly,” stated Gallant. “We face heavy and complex external challenges. Any call for refusal harms the functioning of the IDF and its ability to carry out its tasks.”

Gallant urged military personnel to place Israel’s security above politics. 

“I call upon every soldier and officer: The IDF is the protector of Israel, and the reserve army is the source of its great power. Leave the political debate outside of the army.”

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

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