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Israel: chief of staff warns split within army poses existential threat

July 24, 2023 at 9:19 am

Herzi Halevi, Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army near Ben Gurion Airport in Lod on March 9, 2023 GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces, General Herzi Halevi, warned on Sunday that the split within the army poses an existential threat to the state, local media have reported. As thousands of reservists vowed to end their voluntary service in protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul, the unity of the IDF has been “dangerously” damaged, said Halevi.

“I call on them to return to service. If ours is not a strong and unified army, and if the best do not serve in the IDF, we will not able to continue to exist as a state in the region,” the Times of Israel reported Halevi as telling troops in an open letter.

“We have acted to keep [the Israeli army] out of the debate, but due to its intensity in Israeli society, we were pulled into it, and the cohesion [of the military] has been harmed,” he wrote. “It is our duty to prevent these cracks from widening.”

Halevi added that none of the IDF’s members have the right to say that they are not serving any longer. “They have no right not to show up for duty or refuse an order.”

According to a spokesperson for the IDF, Daniel Hagari: “Failing to report to reserve duty hurts the IDF and state security. Over the past days, it is evident that cohesion has been damaged, which will take a long time to repair.”

READ: Military protests against judicial reforms threaten Israel’s security, say officials