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10,000 Israeli troops refuse to serve over gov’t actions

Israeli flag (The State of Israel/WikiCommons)
July 24, 2023

In a wave of resistance, around 10,000 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists have declared their unwillingness to serve, joining over 1,000 Air Force counterparts who made a similar statement. Their defiance arises from controversial legislation by the current government that some claim is against democratic values.

“This is one of the most difficult evenings for the State of Israel, but it’s also one of the most important in the state’s history,” Eyal Neve, Brothers in Arms leader, announced during a Saturday press conference.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the group of 10,000 reservists symbolically stands before the government, the defense minister and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming that the responsibility lies with them to halt the legislative process.

“If you want us on your side as we’ve served under right and left wing governments, we are calling on you to stop the legislation,” Neve said.

Critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reforms argue the proposal for legislation allowing the government to have more power over the appointment of the nation’s judges would remove the balance of power in the government.

On the other hand, Israeli lawmakers claim that the legislation will help “restore democracy” to the country.

The reservists threatening to quit the IDF, unified in their concern over perceived threats to Israeli democracy, have been supported by former IDF, Israel Police, Mossad, and Shin Bet chiefs in a letter to the prime minister. They explicitly held Netanyahu accountable for what they view as “the hard hit to the IDF and security in Israel.”

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The IDF has meanwhile assured that despite the protest, they maintain readiness for war. However, N12 reports a warning from IDF Chief of Staff that the passage of the “reasonableness standard bill” could severely compromise this readiness within 48 hours, a claim the IDF later denied.

The seismic shift in the IDF’s ranks comes at a precarious moment in Israeli history. The prime minister and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who previously voiced concerns over the security implications of the legislative measures, met Sunday to discuss the matter further.

On Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi called on Israeli reservists to return to the military.

“The reservists are extremely dear to us, and their contribution to the state is tremendous,” Halevi stated in a public letter. “I respect everyone, even those who arrived at the heavy-hearted decision and signed, with a shaking hand, that they would not respond to their call up. I call on them to return to service.”

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.