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Israeli Military in Chaos as Defense Minister Calls for End to Controversial Reforms

Gallant warned that the proposed changes are causing a rift within society and have a clear and immediate danger to the security of the state.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, has called for the government to suspend planned judicial reforms that have sparked widespread protests and are disrupting the country’s military. Gallant warned that the proposed changes are causing a rift within society and have a clear and immediate danger to the security of the state. He also implored Israelis to stop their enormous protests, which have grown over the past ten weeks.

The proposed judicial overhaul includes measures that would give the government more power over Supreme Court appointments, allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority vote, and end the court’s practice of applying a “reasonableness” test when evaluating laws and government actions. Critics argue that the reforms are a step towards authoritarianism, with some suggesting that they are designed to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu escape corruption charges.

Saturday night’s protests were the largest yet, estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Gallant noted that the events happening in Israeli society are affecting the military, with feelings of rage, disappointment, and fear reaching unprecedented heights. A growing coalition of Israeli service members, called Brothers in Arms, has pledged to stop showing up for duty in protest of the measures. Some have already refused to report for duty, including 200 Israeli Air Force reserve pilots who signed a letter saying they will not serve for two weeks.

The dip in reservists reporting for duty is so large that the military is on the verge of curtailing some operations, according to anonymous Israeli officials cited by The New York Times. Some officials are also expecting resignations from full-time service members. Far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir criticized Gallant for “succumbing to the pressure of those [IDF members] who threatened to refuse [to report for duty] and are trying to stop the important reform.” Israel’s communications minister accused Gallant of “giving wind to a military coup.”

However, two fellow Likud party lawmakers endorsed Gallant’s plea just minutes after his speech. If they become “no” votes, along with Israel’s agriculture minister and another Likud member who reportedly favor a freeze, the quartet would be sufficient to impede the legislation. Netanyahu has warned against surrendering to the IDF’s refusal, stating that it poses a terrible danger to the state of Israel and that all red lines have been crossed.

Gallant said he had privately shared his views with Netanyahu, who asked him to delay going public with them. Gallant canceled plans to speak out on Thursday but said he now felt compelled to take his message to all Israelis. The coming week could bring high drama and even more upheaval, as the Knesset is expected to hold its final vote on the first aspect of the judicial overhaul. The situation remains tense as Israelis await the government’s response to Gallant’s call for a suspension of the reforms.

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