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Netanyahu, Gallant ‘fully back’ IDF, chief of staff

The prime minister and the defense minister defended IDF leaders, who have come under criticism for the way they have handled anti-reform reservists' refusals to serve.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a security assessment at Camp Dayan, north of Tel Aviv, after a barrage of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Next to him are Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy, May 2, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a security assessment at Camp Dayan, north of Tel Aviv, after a barrage of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Next to him are Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy, May 2, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a joint statement Tuesday expressing their “full backing” for the chief of staff and officers of the IDF “in order to ensure the security of the state and its citizens.”

“The prime minister and the defense minister reject any attack on senior security establishment officials and fully back the commanders and soldiers of the IDF, who are working day and night for the security of Israel,” the statement said.

Their remarks come in the wake of criticism of the army over its perceived weak response to the phenomenon of reservists threatening not to report for duty in protest against the government’s judicial reform plan.

Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem (Likud) told Army Radio on Tuesday, “There is a rebellion within the IDF. In every regular army, rebels are treated the way rebels should be treated.”

Gallant quickly came to the IDF’s defense: “I’m turning to the elected officials: If you can’t contain yourselves, attack me, the Defense Minister. I am in charge of the chief-of-staff and the commander of the Air Force. Take the IDF out of the political discussion, it is the defensive tool that grants life to the people of Israel.”

The prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, also criticized the IDF on Monday, sharing a Facebook post stating that IDF Chief-of-Staff Herzi Halevi “will be remembered as the most failed and destructive chief of staff in the history of the IDF” for his failure to crack down on the phenomenon of refusal to serve.

The post was quickly deleted.

In a separate statement Tuesday night, Gallant dismissed claims the air force might not be prepared for battle due to pilots refusing to serve.

“The air force is a key component in our ability to defend ourselves and attack our enemies,” he said. “The members are a strategic asset of the State of Israel. I am convinced that the air force will carry out every mission—in routine and emergency situations,” added the minister.

Senior IDF officers on Wednesday briefed lawmakers on the readiness of the military.

In a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the officers discussed “preparations for future effects of the public controversy on the military’s competence and readiness,” a Knesset spokesperson said.

“Additionally, the matter of dealing with those who fail to show up for duty was brought up. The phenomenon is being handled and the steps to prevent its spread were presented,” added the statement.

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