Along with common citizens and soldiers, Israeli pilots and intelligence officers joined the ever-growing groups of protestors against Netanyahu’s government this Friday.
This Friday marked another turning point for Israel’s political future as Israeli pilots and intelligence officers joined demonstrators against Netanyahu and his far-right government. Common citizens and soldiers have been protesting for weeks in the streets of Israel objecting controversial decisions made by the new government. They are particularly objecting the government’s decision in limiting the supreme court’s authorities.
It was in early January that Netanyahu’s justice minister Yariv Levin unveiled the new government’s long-promised overhaul of the judicial system that aims to giving parts of the authorities of the supreme court to the government. Critics believe that this decision, if put into practice, will weaken the supreme court and undermine Israel’s democracy by giving absolute power to the most rightwing coalition in the country’s history.
“If they succeed, it’s a different system, a different Israel,” says Dan Meridor, Israel’s former justice minister, warning that in the absence of a constitution, Israel’s courts serve to protect people from “being at the mercy of the government”.
Addressing the new wave of protests in Israel, Haaretz noted in report this Friday that “the main concerns of the Israeli General Staff now are not the escalating security tension in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, especially the West Bank and Jerusalem, nor the Iranian “nuclear threat”, but the presence of Initial indications of a crisis in the reserve forces, especially the Israel Air Force, sparked by the ruling coalition’s governmental coup.”
Chaos awaiting Israel military
The newspaper warned that if Netanyahu and his far-right cabinet members insist on ignoring the weeks-long protests and don’t reverse their decision, it will cause chaos in Israel’s air force and intelligence organizations.
“Members of reserve aircrews are increasingly discussing the possible refusal to comply with which the Netanyahu government is fomenting. There is an intensifying dialogue among reserve air force crews and intelligence bodies about the possibility of refusing to comply with call-ups or with certain directives, in solidarity with people and soldiers who are protesting these days,” Haaretz explained in the report.
In an effort to persuade, or better say, threaten soldiers to stop protesting, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Herzi Halevi, warned this Thursday that no soldier should get involved in the political conflict over the controversial judicial reform plan.
Speaking at an Army event in Tel Aviv, Halevi called on the soldiers in the regular service and the reserve forces to leave differences outside and “preserve a single and unified Israeli Army”, noting that “disagreement is raging in Israeli society these days”.
But Friday protests by the new members of Israel’s Army showed that this is just the beginning of troubles for the new government. To read between the lines, the majority of Israel’s military power is focused on the Air Force and intelligence services. Their possible refusal of officers of these two branches to comply with their commanders will therefore cause huge damage to Israel’s hard power.
“Over time, a decline in the willingness of reserve pilots and navigators to report for duty will affect the force’s professional fitness and is liable to have a detrimental effect on the IDF’s might,” Haaretz noted in the report.