Israel: Soldiers in the elite units join the protests against Netanyahu’s government on the controversial judicial reforms
A group of reservists in Israel’s elite military units and intelligence services said they won’t respond to summons orders starting Sunday, in an escalation of protests against the far-right government’s plan to amend the Judicial Authority Law.
This comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that violence and chaos wouldn’t be tolerated, after mass demonstrations entered their 11th week.
In a letter circulated to the Israeli media, 450 protesters who described themselves as volunteer reservists in the army’s Special Forces, and 200 who described themselves as volunteer reservists in operations related to cyberattacks, including members of the intelligence service (Mossad) and the internal security service (Shin Bet), said that they refuse to carry out subpoenas at this time.
Many Israeli reservists soldiers had previously signed petitions warning that they wouldn’t serve in the reservists, if that plan was passed, by which Israel won’t continue as a democratic state, according to what they say.
Days after 37 reserve pilots, who make up the majority of one of the important fighter squadrons, announced that they would not participate in the exercises, rejecting the plan to reform the judiciary.
The announcement came by the Israeli pilots in a joint statement, and they are from the “Hammer Squadron” dedicated to attacking distant targets, consisting of 40 pilots, and it consists of F-15i fighter jets, and it is based at Hatsrim Air Base in Beersheba, southern Israel.
For his part, Netanyahu has denounced the protests’ reach into the ranks of the military, describing them as an attempt to sabotage an institution that is supposed to be above politics. While some opposition leaders have expressed such misgivings, others say the government’s tendency to authoritarianism would harm the idea of national duty.
Most Israelis are conscripted into the army for two to three years, and some continue to do reserve duties until middle age, but some units consider particularly valuable reservists, given their accumulated experience and skills.
The plan aroused concern at home and abroad, and as the amendments approached, demonstrations increased, the value of the Israeli currency, the shekel decreased, and veterans of the national security services expressed their fears, contrary to their habit of avoiding appearing publicly.
Netanyahu describes the proposed judicial changes as a rebalancing of the branches of government, while critics say the prime minister, who is on trial on corruption charges he denies, seeks to subjugate the courts to the executive branch.
“We won’t accept chaos… We won’t accept this… We won’t accept violence from any side,” Netanyahu said in his weekly ministerial meeting.