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Israel: army faces existential threat, says retired general

July 26, 2023 at 1:03 pm

Israeli police arrest a protester as Israelis, who oppose the judicial overhaul plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, stage a protest in front of Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem on July 24, 2023. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s army is facing an existential threat from the major public protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, a retired general has claimed. This in turn is making the state itself seem “fragile,” said Tamir Hayman.

“Israel is facing dramatic days,” explained the director of the Institute for National Security Studies. “When the army, like all other things taken for granted, disappears, Israel’s fragility appears.”

Hayman added that the dismantling of the people’s army will be critical to Israel’s security. “The dismantling has begun from now on.”

The retired army officer stressed that, “Attempts to keep the army out of the political discourse are no longer relevant. [It] is at the heart of the crisis, and expectations that the army would have remained outside [the discourse] were naive.”

The secret of the army’s power is not blind obedience, he pointed out, but the spirit of volunteering and initiative spread through all the army’s distinctive forces. “This spirit is spread through the right and the left, the centre and the edge, and from the religious to the secularists. This is what makes the Israeli army the army of the people.”

It is this spirit, added Hayman, that is facing an existential threat. “The Israeli army we know will fade away without it. All that will remain is a normal army… The Israeli army is small with limited abilities. Without the reservists [who are refusing to volunteer], there will be no army.”

READ: Israel army chief urges protesting military reservists to reconsider decision