In protest at controversial plans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reform the country’s legal system, dozens of Israeli air force reserveists won’t be attending training drills.
Nine weeks of demonstrations were held across the country in response to the proposals. Critics have said that the proposals would reduce the power of judges and weaken Supreme Court.
He is currently being tried for fraud, corruption and breach of trust. In January, Mr Netanyahu was sworn into office for the sixth time as Israel’s Prime Minister. This time, he was head of an ultranationalist-right coalition.
The opposition to the plans has grown since then. However, the symbolic move of 37 pilots and navigators from F-15 squadron’s air force is significant.
Israel is proud of its military power and its forces are intended to be apolitical.
In a letter distributed to local media, the strikers stated that they would not train on Wednesday and instead “dedicate our time to dialogues and reflections for the sake democracy and national unity”.
They stated that they would suspend the protest if necessary to conduct actual operations. Although they can be relied on during wartime, reserveists train regularly to make sure they are ready.
Minister says protests being ‘played up’
A close ally of the prime Minister tried to minimize the importance of the intervention of the reservists.
Channel 12 TV’s Finance Minister Bezalel M. Smotrich said that the media was “playing up their statements”, insisting that “hundreds upon thousands” of people continue to enlist in the military.
Netanyahu also tweeted a picture of himself at conscription age, with the caption: “When called up to reserve duty, we always show up.”
The PM was a former officer in the most prestigious commando unit of his country.
One commander in Israel Defence Forces (IDF), has stated that he won’t allow any ongoing controversy about the government’s plans to affect the military’s capabilities.
A spokesperson said that Lieutenant General Herzi Halevy was “aware” of the division and public discourse, but would not allow it to affect the IDF’s ability “to carry out its most important mission, which is to defend Israel’s security.”
They added that officers were given orders to talk with their subordinates about this issue.