Netanyahu Halevi meeting canceled as more volunteers refuse to serve

Air Force officials fear protest spreading into the ranks after volunteers refuse service, say repercussions to the force, Israel's most effective strategic arm, would be long-lasting

Yossi Yehushua|
A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi that was scheduled for Sunday, was postponed after the prime minister was hospitalized late on Saturday and fitted with a pacemaker.
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Halevi was supposed to brief Netanyahu on the readiness of the military, after the announcement of thousands of volunteers to the military reserves, said they would refuse to serve if the coalition passes a bill that would curb judicial oversight over government decisions.
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו, הרמטכ"ל הרצי הלוי ושר הביטחון יואב גלנט בהערכת מצב
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו, הרמטכ"ל הרצי הלוי ושר הביטחון יואב גלנט בהערכת מצב
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi
(Photo: GPO)
Halevi was expected to tell the prime minister that at the moment, the military's preparedness was not yet affected but the threat by the 10,000 reservists, among them over 1,000 Air Force pilots, navigators and operational commanders, was real and could expand further beyond the reserve forces.
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מסיבת עיתונאים של אחים לנשק
מסיבת עיתונאים של אחים לנשק
Reservists say 10,000 already said they would refuse to serve
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
There is no doubt among officials that the military will be harmed. The Air Force's capabilities rely heavily on the volunteer reservists, many of them have actively participated in the 29-week-long protests against the government's legislative push, but they may not be alone and active service personnel may also refuse to serve. The situation is out of control, some say.
"The Air Force is torn, in a way never before seen," a senior officer said. "The best among us are agonizing. The unity in our force now and in the future will be impacted and the real fear is over how those now in uniform will respond since our squadrons are made up of active service personnel and reservists," he said.
Air Force officials also said that the belief in the just purpose of the force which had prompted them to serve Israel's security over the years, was eroding. They said they believed that if there was an immediate threat to Israel's security, the volunteers would show up. But there was and increased crisis in confidence in the country's leadership and therefore in the justification for missions that they may be called upon to fulfill.
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צעדת המחאה נגד המהפכה המשפטית - עולים ברגל לירושלים
צעדת המחאה נגד המהפכה המשפטית - עולים ברגל לירושלים
A protest march to Jerusalem on Saturday
(Photo: Amit Shabi)
Only the prime minister can stop this from happening, the officials said although Defense Minister Yoav Gallant could also help. Gallant was not expected to weigh in publicly after he was dismissed by Netanyahu last March for speaking out against the legislation's repercussions.
The Air Force, the pride of Israel and its most effective strategic arm will likely not be the same after the bill is passed and the fallout will be felt for years to come.
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