Hundreds of Israeli reservists refusing to serve in protest against judicial overhaul plan

Hundreds of Israeli reservists refusing to serve in protest against judicial overhaul plan
Hundreds of reservists in the Israeli military have said they will not serve if a government plan to reform the judiciary is not scrapped.
2 min read
02 March, 2023
The Israeli military relies heavily on its reservists [Getty/archive]

A growing number of Israeli reservists are refusing to serve in the military in protest against the government’s contentious judicial overhaul plans, according to reports in Israeli media.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have come out against the proposed judicial overhaul in recent weeks.

The reforms to the judicial system give the Israeli Knesset - dominated by a far-right ruling coalition -  decisive sway in picking judges and limits the scope of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation or rule against the government.

Tens of thousands of people have protested against the changes, which many in Israel view as an attack on "democratic" insitutions. 

At least 180 air force reserve officers submitted a petition Wednesday night to the Israeli defence minister and chief of staff announcing their refusal to serve in the military, Israel’s Kan broadcaster reported.

The officers all serve in the military’s Control and Monitoring Department.

Wednesday’s move came after a similar announcement late last week which saw 100 senior officers in an elite unit sign a petition saying they will not perform any military service if the judicial changes were approved.

Hundreds more officers and reservists in the intelligence corps' 'Unit 8200' – in charge of operations related to cyberwarfare and surveillance - also said they would stop working.

The decisions have raised fears in Israel regarding the military’s readiness amid growing tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories, where at least 64 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the beginning of the year.

On Wednesday, Israeli protesters blocked roads in a 'day of national disruption', clashing with police, and even surrounded a hair salon which the prime minister’s wife was visiting.

They are calling on Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme-right government to scrap the proposed reforms.

Netanyahu has defended the plan as "key to restoring balance between the branches of government," arguing judges currently have too much power over elected officials.

Critics, including Supreme Court president Esther Hayut, have condemned the reforms as an assault on the independence of the judiciary.