Netanyahu Urges IDF Chief to Contain Reservist Protest

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives at a Cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Sunday to contain a wave of protest from within the ranks over the government’s planned judicial reform.

Starting Sunday, more than 700 elite officers from the Air Force, special forces and Mossad said they would stop volunteering for duty.

During the remarks to his Cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said he would not accept “anarchy,” listing off demands that his security chiefs rein in road blockages by protesters, incitement against him and his ministers and the refusal to serve by a growing number of reservists.

“I expect from the IDF chief of staff and the heads of the branches of the security services to aggressively combat the refusal to serve. There’s no place for refusal to serve in the public discourse,” he said. “A state that wishes to exist can’t tolerate such phenomena and we will not tolerate it as well.”

The protest from within the IDF comes as Israel is mired in a year-long round of fighting with the Palestinians, and as Israel’s archenemy Iran races ahead with its nuclear program. Israel says Iran is developing a nuclear bomb — a charge that Tehran denies.

Netanyahu said the legal changes would be carried out responsibly while protecting the basic rights of all Israelis.

The military had no immediate comment about Netanyahu’s remarks. Halevi has reportedly warned Netanyahu that the reservists’ protest risks harming the IDF’s capabilities. He has pledged to make sure it doesn’t and keep the IDF outside of the public debate on the overhaul.

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