Cracks Are Emerging in Israel's Military. Reservists Threaten Not to Serve if Government Plan Passes
2023/07/19

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Israel's military is facing internal divisions as reservists refuse to show up for duty in protest against a government plan to overhaul the country's judiciary. Thousands reservists have signed letters pledging not to serve if the legislative changes are implemented. The protesters argue that the proposed overhaul threatens democracy and could expose Israeli forces war crimes charges. The recent announcement by 161 critical air force personnel that they will halt their service has raised concerns about the military's readiness, particularly in light of heightened violence and tensions in the region.

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The refusals have not had an immediate impact on the army's readiness, but the declaration from the air force personnel has sent shockwaves through the establishment. Israel relies heavily on its air force for operations in neighboring countries, including strikes on enemy targets and combating militants in Gaza. The refusal of pilots and ground personnel to serve disrupts the system and undermines the military's effectiveness. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant initially criticized the overhaul but was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Political leaders have taken a harder line against the protests, with Netanyahu vowing unspecified action.

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Military leaders have also stiffened their tone against those who refuse to serve. If the legislation is implemented, more refusals are expected, which could further impact the military's performance. The divisions within Israeli society caused by the overhaul are now being carried over into the military, testing cohesion in an institution that serves as a melting pot for the diverse population. This situation is seen as a catastrophe for the military, as tensions between crews undermine their ability to work together effectively.

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