Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi warns that Israeli deterrence may be undermined amid the judicial reform crisis. At the same time, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah underscored that Israel’s proposed death penalty for terrorists will encourage more attacks.
“The recent events in Israel are a sign that the country is nearing its end,” Nasrallah repeated several times in his recent speeches. He was referring to Israel’s internal disputes over the government’s plans for a major overhaul of the judiciary. Nasrallah also warned that a proposed Israeli law imposing the death penalty on terrorists convicted of deadly attacks will only encourage more attacks. “Everything that is happening in Israel is a sign of the end of this state,” Nasrallah said. His own country has been suffering a severe crisis of its own for years. Instead of standing by the Lebanese people in their time of need, Nasrallah is all about hating Israel.
Arab enemies follow Israel’s domestic policies and, of course, have also heard Halevi’s leaked closed-door warnings that the growing phenomenon of reservists refusing to show up for duty to protest controversial legal reforms is undermining Israel’s deterrence. The IDF chief has told his subordinates that he believes tolerating such cases of conscientious objection among reservists will result in other soldiers in different political circumstances using the same excuse. Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Galant will meet with around a hundred reserve force commanders and tell them that insubordination is a red line. However, in private the generals continue to worry: “If the new legislation passes the second and third readings, then there will be even more protests.”
Amid these threats to not show up for military duty, religious Likud lawmaker and Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi said in his celebratory Purim message on social media, “The reservists can go to hell.” As a result, reservists surrounded his house with a red and white strip of tape, as is customary in the army with duds (unexploded bombs) for safety reasons. “Be careful, there’s a dud here!” read the signs. “Should we go to hell? We’re defending the country and we’re doing it for love.”
At the same time, some 6,000 IDF reservists have signed a petition reiterating their commitment to unconditionally defending the country, irrespective of what’s going on in the Knesset. “We, the current reservists from all parts of the nation, in all ranks and functions, and across the political spectrum, will continue to serve as reserve soldiers in the IDF, despite the current struggles in civil society, out of a sense of mission and in recognition of the importance of defending the homeland,” the petition reads.
One of the organizers of the petition, Oded Harush, serves as a reserve tank commander. “We decided to start the petition and within two days there were 4,000 signatures from reservists; four days later there were already 6,000 signatures,” said Harush. “Leave the army out of the conversation. It is the basic security of every citizen in this country, it cannot operate according to any particular agenda. We cannot live without the army, and security is the basis of everything. Otherwise no one will live here anymore.”
The chief of staff thinks it is best to deal with reservists who refuse to report for duty internally rather than launch a public campaign against them, Israeli sources said. Furthermore, he currently prefers to deal with the problem without the threat of punitive action against the demonstrators, as he is convinced that this will only lead to a widening of the phenomenon.
The Israeli army is perhaps the only institution in the country where people feel any kind of unity. Regardless of whether they are secular or Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Bedouins, Christians or Druze, those in uniform feel united in their mission: to defend the Land of Israel. If this is now also shattered because of the controversial legal reforms, then the people will perish. The non-Jewish soldiers often emphasize that the uniform unites the diverse population, and this must remain sacrosanct. Israel’s military leaders understand that, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also concerned.
As noted previously, Netanyahu appears ready to compromise and conduct the judicial reform in cooperation with the opposition, but his Justice Minister Yariv Levin says no and threatens immediate resignation if Netanyahu backs down. But there will come a moment when Netanyahu will have to choose between Levin and saving the people. Either he renounces his justice minister and triggers a possible fall of his government, or he pushes Israel into an impossible situation that causes the whole nation to fall. And our Arab neighbors and enemies see this internal political danger, this severe civil strife, and they lie in wait.
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