• Organizers say Netanyahu’s vow to enact law to control judicial appointments next week was breaking point for many in the IAF who hadn’t already joined protest

TEL AVIV (News Agencies): Roughly 200 Israeli Air Force reserve pilots reportedly notified their units that they would not be reporting for their weekly flying session next week following the announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night that the government will move forward with its plan to overhaul the judiciary, despite widespread public protest.

The failure to report for weekly training sessions has serious implications because pilots who miss them are not certified to fly operational missions.

The protesters included pilots from different branches of the IAF including those who fly combat missions, helicopters and transport planes, Channel 12 reported, without citing a source.

Those who joined the protest Friday included some of the most senior pilots in the IAF, such as those who carry out missions that Israel does not publicly acknowledge, the report said.

Hundreds of IAF officers and military reservists have joined the protests in recent weeks against the hardline coalition’s effort to radically restrict the High Court of Justice’s power, declaring that they won’t report for duty if the overhaul passes. A significant proportion of the protesting reservists have already stopped reporting for duty, further intensifying the pressure against the government.

The trend has sparked deep fears among the security establishment, which has warned Netanyahu that the IDF’s operational capacity is at risk.

There was some speculation Thursday that the prime minister would agree to halt the overhaul legislation, at least temporarily, in order to allow for substantive negotiations to reach a compromise with the opposition.

Instead, Netanyahu gave a prime-time address in which he said his government will continue to charge ahead with the plan “responsibly,” while aiming to pass a core tenet of the overhaul next week.

Military brass has insisted that the armed services must remain outside any political brawl, but numerous reports have indicated the phenomenon is only growing.

Netanyahu’s speech also led to an intensification of the reservists’ protests against the government.

The IAF officers decided to hold off on attending training sessions for two weeks before reassessing, the network said.

Protest organizers told the Ynet news site Friday that Netanyahu’s speech the night before represented a breaking point for many pilots who had until then held out on joining the protests.

Also on Friday, 100 IDF doctors penned a letter to the top IDF brass informing them that they would no longer be reporting for reserve duty as a result of the continued advancement of the judicial overhaul.

The military physicians said they had reached out several weeks earlier urging the military leadership to act against the implementation of the “regime coup,” warning then that they would not be able to continue serving if it was implemented.

“To our disappointment, the legislative race not only hasn’t been stopped but it has intensified, despite the growing societal rupture and despite the warnings from experts in various fields.”

Accordingly, the military doctors said they would be ceasing their reserve duty service immediately and would instead be enlisting in the fight for democracy.

Two hundred reservists from Unit 8200, the IDF’s main intelligence gathering unit, also said they will halt their service.

By Media

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