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Israel Air Force chief sacks reserve Colonel over judiciary reform protest

March 9, 2023 at 7:12 pm

Israel’s fighter jets [Israeli Air Force / Wikipedia]

The Israeli Air Force said, on Thursday, that it had dismissed a reservist officer in the military for trying to orchestrate group walkouts from training flights as part of a spreading protest at judicial reforms planned by the government, Reuters reported.

In its first disciplinary measure during the political crisis roiling Israel, the military said in a statement that the Colonel, whose name has not been published, “behaved … in a manner unbecoming of his officer’s rank and station”.

Separately, Air Force chief, Major-General Tomer Bar, said the Colonel “took upon himself inappropriate authority in his contact with the IAF pilots. Unionising to synchronise absence from service, though coming from good intentions, is forbidden”.

Thirty-seven reservist pilots and navigators from an F-15 squadron said, on Sunday, they would skip a training day to “devote our time to dialogue and reflection for the sake of democracy and national unity”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition plans changes to the judiciary that would include curbing Supreme Court powers. Netanyahu says this will restore balance between branches of government, but critics see it as an effort to hollow out judicial independence.

The protest in the ranks jarred Israelis, who see their conscript-based military as a melting-pot that should be kept free of politics. Air Force crews in the reserves take part in training as volunteers, without a legal obligation to attend.

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