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Israel Fears Army Could Join Protests against Netanyahu Government


Asharq Al-Awsat


The Israeli army is on the verge of reducing the scope of operations due to many reservists refusing to report for duty in protest against plans by the ruling right-wing government to weaken the judiciary, announced Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.
Halevi's warning came amid army leadership fearing that the protests might extend to regular soldiers.
Israeli Channel 12 reported that about 200 pilots in the Israeli Air Force did not report to duty on Friday in protest over the judicial system proposal.
The group of pilots, some of whom conducted Israeli covert operations, said they decided to halt service after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech and that they would review it within two weeks.
About 100 reservists informed their commanders last Wednesday that they would stop volunteering because of the legislative process promoted by the government coalition within the framework of the judicial reform plan.
In addition, 150 officers and soldiers of the Intelligence Unit 8200 announced that they would stop their military service in the reserve forces as part of their protest against the Israeli government's plan to weaken the judiciary.
Israeli media also quoted dozens of regular soldiers who implicitly threatened not to carry out orders if the government proceeded with its planned overhaul.
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that 17 soldiers from the regular army formations protested in a video recording the laws marginalizing the judicial system, saying that they did not enlist in the army to protect a dictatorship.
It is the first-time regular soldiers have joined the protests among reservists.
However, Netanyahu warned that the reactions pose a grave danger to the future of Israel, and could spread beyond those who oppose the overhaul.
Netanyahu said he expects the security establishment to adopt a "firm position against" the phenomenon, adding that Israel can't exist without the army.
"All red lines have been crossed. People who were responsible for the security of the country have suddenly adopted this cynicism," he warned on Friday.
On Thursday, Netanyahu said after meeting Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the law on selecting judges would be enacted next week.
Gallant is widely reported to have planned Thursday to call for a halt to the legislation over his intense concerns but put the matter off after talking to Netanyahu.
The state broadcaster said Gallant had told Netanyahu that if legislative proceedings for the judicial changes were not suspended or compromised, he would vote against it.
Gallant cautioned Netanyahu that the crisis posed a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the state's security, warning that he was encountering unprecedented anger and disappointment.
Earlier, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and Netanyahu discussed the increased security threats and the rift in Israeli society.
Barr told Netanyahu that the threats led Israel to a "dangerous place."

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