Israeli military reservists refuse to return to service in protest at new far-right government
Israel’s military reservists are increasingly refusing to return to service in protest at the country’s new far-right government, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
Reservists play an important role in the Israeli military and are summoned to serve for as many as 60 days a year.
All but three of the 40 reservist pilots in Israel’s elite 69 Squadron said that they would not report for training on Sunday, arguing they will not serve a “dictatorial regime,” The Guardian reported.
The F-15I pilots form a strategically crucial squadron capable of flying long-range missions.
Security officials are reportedly concerned that their opposition may lead to insubordination within the ranks of the serving military.
“It is inconceivable for me that I would ever do something like this. I was in the air force for 31 years, 16 of those were under Netanyahu, even though I never voted for him,” former F-15 fighter jet navigator Omer Denk, 51, told the Guardian.
Although pilots and intelligence operatives have participated in boycotts over issues such as Gaza disengagement and the second Lebanon war, the growing number of these types of incidents is unprecedented.
Denk added: “This isn’t about politics or policy. This is about a crisis in trust in a leadership that wants to destroy Israel as a liberal democracy.”
Thousands across Israel are taking part in protests against the government’s plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.
Critics, which include influential business leaders and former military figures, say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing the country toward authoritarian rule and has a clear conflict of interest in targeting judges as he stands trial on corruption charges.
Anti-government protests in Israel turned violent on Wednesday for the first time as police fired stun grenades and a water cannon at demonstrators who blocked a Tel Aviv highway.
Netanyahu on Monday called the reservists’ refusal to report for duty unacceptable and an “existential” threat, The Guardian reported.
He has also shared a picture of his military ID to social media, with the caption: “When we’re called for reserve duty, we always turn up. We are one nation.”
Former military officials have expressed concern that the proposed judicial changes may subject them to international prosecution, The Guardian reported.
Israel is not a member of the International Criminal Court, claiming that its own legal system adequately investigates allegations of wrongdoing by the armed forces.
Palestinians and human rights organizations have long claimed that the very low number of indictments in Israeli investigations amounts to nothing more than a whitewash of the occupation.