July 23 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), General Herzi Halevi, acknowledged this Sunday that the institution has been “dragged” by the debate on the controversial judicial reform promoted by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Halevi has acknowledged in a message sent to the troops that the IDF has been “dangerously” damaged by the issue, since more than 10,000 reservists have announced their resignation from volunteer service in protest of the initiative.
Thus, Halevi has asked the reservists to back down: “I ask you to return to service” because Israel is in existential danger without an Armed Forces united with the “best” soldiers.
“If our army is not strong and united and if the best are not in the IDF, we will not be able to continue to exist as a state in the region,” he said, according to ‘The Times of Israel’.
“We have reacted to keep (the IDF) out of the debate, but due to its intensity within Israeli society we have been drawn into it and cohesion has been affected. Our duty is to prevent these cracks from widening,” he added.
Halevi has ruled out intervening in the political debate, but recalled that the function of the IDF is “to protect the country and this implies allowing the debate in security conditions.”
Otherwise, “a soldier on the ground could mistakenly think that the Air Force would not help him because of the debate and a pilot could mistakenly think that they do not need to prepare and be ready for combat when in reality they may be needed soon,” he argued, referring to the supposed division between the airmen, who are opposed to judicial reform, and the ground troops, perceived as more in line with the current government coalition.
“None of the military has the right to say that they are no longer serving and they do not have the right not to show up or to refuse an order,” Halevi warned.
After completing the two-year mandatory military service, most Israelis do reserve service each year and for members of special forces units and pilots this voluntary service is traditionally taken for granted.
On Saturday, the Brothers in Arms reservist group announced that 10,000 reservists were giving up their volunteer services. Another 1,000 Air Force reservists, including 400 pilots, announced the same decision on Friday in support of protests against a judicial reform that, according to the opposition, ends the division of powers.