EL MUNDO Uruguay - Noticias Globales y de Uruguay EL MUNDO Uruguay - Noticias Globales y de Uruguay

Israel’s military reservists are joining protests – potentially transforming a political crisis into a security crisis

The reservists’ active participation in the protests and their vocal opposition to the government’s plan have clearly made an impact on the defense minister. But at the same time, Gallant came out strongly against insubordination. Undoubtedly, the coming days will be critical in determining the direction of Israeli democracy.

Global 26 de marzo de 2023 Dan Arbell

Israel’s military reservists are joining protests – potentially transforming a political crisis into a security crisis

A member of Israel’s military reserves takes part in a protest on March 16, 2023 in Bnei Brak, a city east of Tel Aviv. Photo by Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Dan Arbell, American University

The judicial overhaul plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, introduced in January, has thrown the country into its most severe domestic crisis since 1973. That crisis intensified on March 26, when Netanyahu fired the country’s defense minister, who had – less than 24 hours before – called on the government to delay its plans to reform the judiciary.

The plan has incited an unprecedented wave of controversy among Israelis, as hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered for a 12th straight week across the country in opposition to the plan. Yet it’s not simply the persistence and size of the protest that is evidence of the crisis. It’s who is protesting.

The demonstrations have brought together groups representing almost all sectors of Israeli society. But among protesters is a group of individuals rarely seen at anti-government protests over the country’s almost 75-year history: Israeli Defense Forces reservists. They include former combat pilots, members of elite units and special forces, cyber-security forces and military intelligence, who announced they will not volunteer for reserve duty service if the legislation passes in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Further demonstrating the unprecedented aspect of the response by reservists: Among those protesting are members of Israeli Air Force Squadron 69. All but three of the 40 reservist pilots in the squadron announced that they would not conduct training exercises and would instead join anti-government protests, claiming they are not prepared to serve in what they say would be a “dictatorial regime.”

“We have no contract with a dictator. We would be happy to volunteer when the democracy is safeguarded,” an open letter from the reservists said.

The highly controversial judicial reform plan would significantly weaken the Israeli judiciary’s oversight over the legislative and executive branches.

The plan calls for near total control over future laws, constitutional amendments and judicial appointments to be concentrated in the hands of the governing coalition in the Knesset. Critics and protesters say the plan undermines the 75-year delicate balance between the three government branches, ends liberal democracy as they know it and pushes Israel towards autocratic rule.

Despite the growing protests, Netanyahu has defiantly promised to push the reforms through the Knesset. As the country inches closer towards a constitutional showdown between the executive and legislative branches and the judicial branch, the presence of former members of elite military units in these protests is evidence that the crisis’ implications extend far beyond the domestic political arena.

Besides threatening to undermine the economy and deepen societal divides, it threatens to erode Israeli national security and provoke a constitutional crisis that could ensnare the military as well.

A man with gray hair, wearing a suit jacket and tie, standing in front of a blue wall and blue and white flag.
Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called for an immediate halt in the judicial overhaul legislation process. Gil Cohen-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

‘The people’s army’

Israel’s military, known as the “IDF,” has been described for decades as the “people’s army.” That’s because young Israeli men and women, when they turn 18, are mandated by law to serve in the military. Men serve for two years and eight months and women for two years.

Upon completion of their regular military service, men and women are assigned to the reserve forces. The reserves are designed to provide reinforcements during emergencies and maintain preparedness through routine training and security assignments. While the number of Israelis serving as reservists has decreased over the years due to cutbacks and people finding ways to be exempted, reserve military service has been an integral part of the national ethos and folklore.

The threat to the government articulated by the protesting reservists is unprecedented. It represents a powerful step by former military and intelligence officials who pride themselves on their independence from politics and commitment to protocol.

Nevertheless, the reservists’ view is that there is an unwritten contract between those who serve and the state: they are willing to risk their lives to defend a liberal democratic Israel. But if Israel becomes a dictatorship, this contract is null and void.

It is possible that other security services like the police or Shin Bet, the internal security service, will take similar actions to protest the reforms. Depending on how long these protests last, the situation could unfold into an uncharted security crisis with high risks of domestic instability and, as Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned, civil strife.

Thousand of people march in the night in the streets.
Israelis protest the proposed judicial reform, in Tel Aviv on March 25, 2023. Gitai Palti/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Defense of democracy - or insubordination?

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, addressing the situation on March 25, 2023, expressed deep concern that the heated political debate is infiltrating the rank and file of the IDF. And that, Gallant said, may undermine and jeopardize Israel’s security at a time when the country faces external threats from Iran, Palestinian terrorism and Lebanese Hezbollah.

“The events taking place in Israeli society do not spare the Israel Defense Forces — from all sides, feelings of anger, pain and disappointment arise, with an intensity I have never encountered before,” Gallant said.

Gallant called for an immediate halt in the judicial overhaul legislation process. Instead, he proposed a dialogue between the two sides in order to reach a broadly agreed reform.

Now, Gallant has been fired for his comments. As a veteran of the IDF, a former Israeli diplomat and a longtime analyst of Israel’s security situation, I believe the crisis poses a profound question of where the line is between legal political activism in defense of democracy and insubordination.

The bigger question is what will happen with the military if the legislation passes in the Knesset, but is then struck down by Israel’s supreme court, the High Court of Justice. Should Netanyahu’s government request that institutions like the IDF act in contradiction to decisions made by the High Court, it is unclear to which authority these institutions would adhere.

For example: if the High Court rules that a Jewish outpost in the West Bank was built illegally and needs to be dismantled, yet the government orders the IDF not to do it, what will the IDF commanders on the ground do?

This tension is starkly displayed by the reservists who are refusing to partake in their usual duties.

In light of Gallant’s call to halt the legislation process, it is unclear whether the voting on the changes in the makeup of the Judges Selection Committee, scheduled for the week of March 26, 2023, will take place as planned.

The reservists’ active participation in the protests and their vocal opposition to the government’s plan have clearly made an impact on the defense minister. But at the same time, Gallant came out strongly against insubordination. Undoubtedly, the coming days will be critical in determining the direction of Israeli democracy.

This story has been updated to reflect Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.The Conversation

Dan Arbell, Scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israeli Studies, American University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Te puede interesar


How the private rental sector created a homelessness crisis in Ireland and England

Padraic Kenna and Mark Jordan
Global 29 de marzo de 2023

Ireland and England face common problems with homelessness and a burgeoning but unsustainable private rental sector. Simplistic supply and demand slogans belittle the part played by private rentals within a complex housing system. In fact, the interaction between social housing availability, financialisation and decades of unfit housing policies have created a unique scenario of homelessness in both countries.


Zelenski acapara atención en la cumbre del G7 y recibe apoyo para Ucrania

Global 21 de mayo de 2023

El presidente ucraniano, Volodimir Zelenski, se convirtió en el centro de atención durante el último día de la cumbre del G7 en Hiroshima, Japón, a pesar de que Ucrania no es miembro del grupo. En un discurso emotivo en el Parque Conmemorativo de Hiroshima, Zelenski resaltó la importancia de escuchar las demandas de unidad del pueblo ucraniano desde una ciudad que fue reconstruida después de sufrir un bombardeo atómico en 1945.

Lo más visto


Estados Unidos y Taiwán firman acuerdo comercial para fortalecer su relación económica mientras China expresa protestas

Global Ayer

El 1 de junio de 2023, representantes de Estados Unidos y Taiwán firmaron un acuerdo comercial con el objetivo de fortalecer y profundizar la relación económica y comercial entre ambos países. Según la Oficina de Negociaciones Comerciales de Taiwán, este acuerdo se considera un hito en las relaciones comerciales y económicas entre las dos naciones.


Sinopsis de Carlos II de Inglaterra

Historia y Biografías Ayer

Carlos II de Inglaterra, también conocido como Carlos II de Inglaterra, Escocia e Irlanda, fue el rey de Inglaterra, Escocia e Irlanda desde 1660 hasta su muerte en 1685. Nació el 29 de mayo de 1630 en Londres, Inglaterra, y era el hijo mayor del rey Carlos I y de su esposa, Henrietta Maria de Francia. Durante la Guerra Civil Inglesa, su padre fue ejecutado y Carlos II fue forzado a huir al exilio.


Trágica colisión múltiple de trenes en India deja 207 muertos y 850 heridos

Global Ayer

El 3 de junio de 2023, se produjo una colisión múltiple de trenes en el este de India, en las cercanías de Balasore, a unos 200 kilómetros de la capital regional Bhubaneswar. Según las autoridades, el balance de víctimas ascendió a 207 personas fallecidas y alrededor de 850 heridas, mientras que se presume que hay más pasajeros atrapados entre los vagones.


Suscríbete al newsletter para recibir periódicamente las novedades en tu email