Mutiny Among Reservists Threatens Israel’s Military Operations

The Cradle

Security officials in Tel Aviv are reportedly also expressing concerns about ‘resignations from full-time soldiers’ over the government’s planned judicial reforms

The chief of staff of the Israeli army, General Herzi Halevi, has warned government leaders that the military is “on the verge of reducing the scope of certain operations” as a result of insubordination from army reservists, according to three Israeli officials who spoke with the New York Times (NYT).

Hundreds of army reservists have threatened to withdraw from voluntary duty in protest of a controversial judicial overhaul plan that seeks to neutralize the judiciary’s power and shield Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from being ousted over corruption charges.

Nearly 500 elite reservists in the military intelligence special operations division and cyberwarfare units ceased their duties last weekend. Hundreds more say they are planning to do the same.

However, the army has declined to publicly state the number of reservists who mutinied this month.

According to the officials who spoke with the NYT, Israel’s military high command “is also concerned about the possibility of resignations from full-time soldiers.”

A spokesman from the premier’s office denied to the NYT that Netanyahu was informed by military leaders “of any threat to the military’s operational capacity.” Nonetheless, during a Friday visit to London, the prime minister described the growing mutiny as “a terrible danger to the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu’s trip to London came just hours after he reportedly stopped Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from holding a televised press conference in which the war chief planned to call for an immediate halt to the government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary.

Gallant — who earlier this week threatened to resign — called off the press conference at the personal request of Netanyahu, with a statement from his office saying he had presented the premier “with the impact of the legislative processes on the [army] and the defense establishment.”

Minutes after Gallant’s office issued this statement, Netanyahu went on TV to vow to continue with his controversial reform plan.

Israeli media reports say Netanyahu has received several warnings from security officials recently about the danger his reform plan poses. The head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency, Ronen Bar, reportedly told the premier that his political decisions, paired with n ongoing social crisis and the growing threat of the Palestinian resistance, are taking Israel “to a very dangerous place.”

Similarly, last week Israeli President Isaac Herzog went on TV to warn that the country is “at the edge of the abyss” and that growing unrest on the streets could push Israel into “civil war.”