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Israeli military says war readiness harmed by protesting reservists

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Israeli Air Force pilot walks to his F-16 fighter jet at the Ovda air force base, on October 24, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli military says its readiness has been hampered by thousands of reservists who are vowing to refuse to report for volunteer duty in protest against controversial judicial overhaul spearheaded by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thousands of Israeli soldiers have threatened to stop showing up for volunteer reserve duty as a protesting move against Tel Aviv's much-condemned judicial overhaul, harming the army’s readiness, said Daniel Hagari, the spokesman for the Israeli military, on Tuesday.

"You asked about readiness", the Israeli military "is ready for war, but there is limited harm in some areas," he said, adding that pilot instructors were a particular source of concern.

"People who leave everything, once a week, and go to train the young pilots. A significant number are deciding not to come," Hagari further said.

In recent months, Israel, where military service is compulsory, has been swept by weekly mass protests against Netanyahu's plan to drastically curtail the power of the judiciary.

Protesting reservists, who are particularly from the air force, say they will not cancel protests even if war breaks out between regional foes.

Hagari added that his colleagues were holding one-on-one meetings with protesting reservists. "They all have different red lines and look at things differently, but they’re very emotional about this."

He warned that "it's a turbulent period in "Israel", and that "it’s impacting" the Israeli military.

Public outrage against the regime's policies has grown since last month, when the Knesset passed the first bill of the judicial overhaul plan after opposition lawmakers left the session. The bill scrapped the "reasonableness" law, through which the Supreme Court can overturn decisions made by Israeli cabinet such as ministerial appointments.

The remaining parts of the overhaul package will be discussed after the Knesset returns from summer recess in October.

Netanyahu, who is fighting corruption charges in court, has said he would be willing to negotiate with the opposition, though previous mediation efforts, including by the regime's president, have failed.

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