Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday evening said in a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War that "the calls being heard these days to encourage military service refusal and to stop the volunteering of reservists threatens the unity of the ranks. They are dangerous and are a reward for our enemies."
- Reservists' political push will haunt Israel's democracy/ Ariel Erlich
- Get off your high horse before hate consumes us/ Ben-Dror Yemini
The minister's words come against the backdrop of the growing calls for soldiers and reservists to refuse to serve and amid reports that at least 400 Air Force reservists, including many pilots and navigators, gathered Tuesday to discuss the further measures that they will take due to the government’s continued legislative push on the judicial overhaul. Earlier on Tuesday, nearly 40 reservist pilots, navigators and additional military staff representing hundreds of others attended a meeting at Tel Nof Airbase at the invitation of Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar to air concerns surrounding the legal plan and consequent threats by airmen.
"I call on public figures from the right and the left, leave politics out of the army," Gallant added. "Make no mistake – today it is one government, tomorrow there may be another government. The only thing that keeps us united is the army. The refusal harms the IDF and the security establishment, the refusal harms Israel's security. The IDF is the protective tool that gives life to the State of Israel. We have no other army to rely on, we must take care to keep it united and leave it out of any controversy."
Gallant pointed out that "the strength of the IDF rested then and rests today on the unity of its ranks, on those fighters – from the tank commander to the division commander– who understood the magnitude of the hour and stood ready together for every mission, united in the goal. Even nowadays, the key to success in our missions lies in the unity of our ranks against our enemies."
He concluded: "We must all condemn refusals or calls for refusals, and remember well - we all have one destiny, we are brothers. The IDF is the army of all of us."
At his meeting, Bar advised any reservist intending to make decisions relating to their service to first and foremost consult with their immediate commanding officer, and that comradery among the soldiers was and remains a "vital" aspect.
The conversation had been planned to take place about two weeks in earlier but was postponed and rescheduled for Tuesday. It was described by those present as "honest, deep and tense" and lasted for about three hours.
The pilots, according to sources familiar with the conversation, "raised a red flag," regarding the ongoing discussions in their units following the attempts to pass a unilateral judicial reform and the possibility of suspending volunteering as a result of the government actions.
Some of the attendees referred to the passing of the bill to end the reasonableness standard in its first reading early on Tuesday morning, and the overall legislative push, as a serious development that could significantly impact the Air Force's operational readiness and lead to the suspension of volunteering by a great number of reservists.
Others cited reports of the government's intention to dismiss Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.
Air Force personnel representatives noted they weren’t speaking on behalf of all reservists but rather sharing their personal opinions. In fact, each one presented "stages" of the judicial overhaul’s passing in which it will become increasingly difficult for a significant number of reservists in the Air Force to continue serving, in their opinion.
According to the military, none of those present threatened to end their volunteer service immediately. Bar clarified that he’s responsible for the soldiers' readiness and will update the IDF’s chief of staff as necessary based on the reports provided by the units’ various commanders.
First published: 17:07, 07.11.23