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Israeli Politics

180 IAF Pilots Threaten Boycott of Duty over Judicial Reforms

IAF

IAF F15I Fighter Jet the “Ra’am” (Thunder – pic from IAF website)

Just a few weeks after 40 Israel Air Force reserve pilots refused to take part in a training exercise in protest over the judicial reforms planned by the government of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now 180 IAF reserve pilots are making a threat to boycott reserve duty as well, reported Israel’s N12 news.

Massive protests have rocked Israel over the past few months, ever since Justice Minister Yariv Levin revealed the government’s plans to alter the nature of Israel’s judicial system. The government’s judicial reform plan would greatly curtail the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify legislation passed by the Knesset and also limit the authority of Israel’s attorney general. The opposition charges this would harm Israel’s democracy, eroding foreign confidence in the country and hurting its economy. And this is why the country is now on the brink of what some are describing as the biggest societal clash in Israel’s history.

The protests heated up after Benjamin Netanyahu’s government adamantly rejected a compromise plan on the judicial reform proposed by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog. When releasing his compromise plan, Herzog warned that the country is so divided now that it could end up in a civil war. And since the President’s speech, acts of violence against the anti-government protestors have increased.

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N12 quoted one reserve pilot who wrote in a letter to his unit, “After realizing that the coalition does not intend to change its course in the context of stopping the legislative blitz, I am dedicating the coming week to the war for democracy and against the coup d’état. Therefore, I won’t be able to get to the reserves and I won’t be available for the reserves if they need me in the unit. I have now finished a conversation with the commander of the unit, I informed him of this.”

Another pilot wrote, “I will dedicate my efforts to the fight against the revolution. My stomach is turning,” one of the reservists wrote to his unit.”

Fighter pilots are the “cream of the crop,” the most respected members of the Israeli military. It is harder to be accepted to the pilots’ program and then complete all of the training to actually fly fighter jets than it is to serve in any other combat role in the IDF. This is why even the threat of such a strike will have major repercussions throughout Israel.

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