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Elite IDF reservists vow to continue to serve

"Our love for the homeland and the people of Israel is 10 times greater than any political considerations."

Soldiers of the elite Maglan unit. Credit: IDF.
Soldiers of the elite Maglan unit. Credit: IDF.

Reserve members of the Israel Defense Forces’ Maglan commando unit declared on Tuesday they would show up for “any operational activity or training if and when required.”

The affirmation comes amid calls to refuse reserve duty in protest of the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform initiative.

“Our love for the homeland and the people of Israel is 10 times greater than any political consideration of one kind or another,” the reservists wrote in a petition addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

“We call our fellow men to arms, the beloved soldiers and commanders with whom we have been fighting for years, shoulder to shoulder, from all the army units and the security system: This is indeed a difficult time, but together we will win as always,” continued the missive.

“We want to reach many hundreds of people,” Col. Amos Hacohen, one of the organizers, told Arutz 7 on Tuesday. “At the end of this petition, similar to other petitions that came out in the last few days, it speaks about the importance of the unity of the army. The most important thing to us is to preserve it. We are not fighting anyone and the struggle is not political.

“The great danger in bringing the army into the dispute and entangling the military framework is twofold,” he added. “One is that the enemies around us will interpret this dispute as a weakness and take advantage of it. The second danger is the precedent of bringing the dispute into the army. Today it serves one side and tomorrow it will serve another side [of the political spectrum].”

Maglan specializes in operating behind enemy lines and deep in enemy territory. The unit was founded in 1986, but its existence was only declassified in 2006.

In recent days, similar letters have been circulated among reservists from other units, including the Israel Air Force’s Shaldag commando unit, the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal), the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit and the Military Intelligence Directorate.

The statements came in response to the announcement by other volunteer reservists, including pilots, that they would not report for duty if the government continues to push through a bill to cancel the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn laws and government decisions based on whether or not the judges think they were “reasonable.”

The bill passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament last week. On Monday and Tuesday, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee debated final changes to the bill before it heads back to the plenum for its second and third readings necessary to become law.

Protests against the judicial reform proposal have roiled the IDF for weeks, with reservists from dozens of units threatening to cease their volunteer service. Thousands of reservists have signed letters threatening to abdicate their responsibilities to the nation over the political dispute.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the danger to the country posed by IDF reservists who threaten to refuse to serve. “It is impossible for there to be a group within the army that threatens the elected government [and says] if you don’t do as we wish, we will turn off the switch on security,” Netanyahu said at the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“No democratic country can accept such a dictate,” he said, adding that only in military regimes does the government obey the army and that “those waving the flag of democracy should be the first to come out against this phenomenon.”

Netanyahu and the IDF chief of staff met with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this week to discuss the issue of refusals to serve. In a statement, the Defense Ministry said Gallant and Halevi briefed Netanyahu on the “security situation and the competence of the IDF.”

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