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Israeli Air Force pilots reportedly warn they won’t fight for 'authoritarian' Israel

Gallant told the pilots that a refusal to do their military duty is unacceptable

Israeli Air Force Commander Tomer Bar, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to members of the Air Force at Ramon air base, August 15, 2023. (Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry)

During a meeting with Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israeli Air Force pilots told the minister that they had sympathy for their fellow reserves pilots who have stopped volunteering for training or operational duty in protest against the government’s judicial overhaul.

More than 1,000 reservist pilots have said that they will be protesting the judicial overhaul by halting their volunteer reserve duty.

At the Ramon Air Base in southern Israel, the active pilots reportedly told Gallant that they, like their colleagues in the reserves, may also stop carrying out attacks on behalf of the Jewish state if the country begins to show signs of authoritarianism.

They do not want to fight on behalf of an undemocratic country and they are themselves considering joining the protests, they told him.

Gallant told the pilots that a refusal to do their military duty was unacceptable and that all of them “are a strategic asset of the State of Israel, enabling the proper functioning of the entire security system — this is why we need them all.”

“The wall that is the Air Force is strong but small. Every brick that falls undermines the stability of that wall. Therefore, we do not have the privilege of not reporting for missions. The security of the country is greater [in importance] than all of us,” Gallant said.

The heads of Israel's security establishment, including General Tomer Bar and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, have publicly voiced their concern that Israel’s military readiness has become weakened as a result of the protests of the reserves.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his government coalition members have accused the security establishment heads of exerting political pressure on the government by making public statements about their fears.

Members of the coalition have also condemned the pilots, calling their protests a “rebellion."

“In any normal army, you treat rebels like rebels should be treated,” Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem of the Likud party told Army Radio.

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

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