Alwaght- These days, Israeli security and political situation is very much like a pre-earthquake time that turns everything into ruins once it strikes. While the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has always bragged about the military’s capabilities and claimed that it counters the increasing power of Iran and the allied resistance groups, the same military is rising in the government face in protest of the judicial overhaul.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported on March 5 that El Al airline pilots and flight attendants refused to take up a tender to staff the prime minister’s scheduled flight to Rome later this week. Although the airline tried to cover up the rebellion under slow flight schedule caused by the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the developments over the past few weeks in the occupied territories show that the pilots and even the military are standing on the opposite side of the government.
Last week, 37 out of the 40 air force reserve pilots said that they plan to skip the March 8 training in protest at measures by Netanyahu’s cabinet that are aimed at curtailing the Supreme Court powers. Israeli media outlets write that these reservists serve in the 69th Squadron and are responsible for airstrikes out of the occupied territories. According to reports, the pilots of this squadron are used for regular strikes on Syria.
Concerns about collapse of the military body
Following the announcement of strike by a group of air force reserve pilots in protest at the controversial actions of the cabinet, Netanyahu held a security meeting in which the Chief of General Staff of Israeli Defense Forces, Herzi Halevi, and the Minister of Defense, Yoav Galant, warned the PM about the widening scope of military mutiny. In this meeting, Halevi warned Netanyahu and Gallant that this may lead to a significant decrease in the level of operational readiness of the military. Meanwhile, Gallant called for dialogue between the government and the opposition on the judicial reform plan.
“The situation today requires dialogue and quickly. We face heavy and complex external challenges, and any call to refuse orders harms the functioning of the Israel Defense Forces and its ability to carry out its tasks,” said Gallant.
The Israeli security authorities’ fear of mutiny in the armed forces did not emerge overnight, and this crisis started years ago and has now reached a boiling point. The pilots’ rebellion against the far-right government comes in the context of many reports of disobedience among the army forces in recent months.
Whereas Netanyahu plans to clear the streets from the opposition protesters with the help of the army and police forces, in recent days, in addition to the citizens and former officials, a number of Israeli generals have also called for people to join the protests. The army commanders believe that the presence of hardliners in the cabinet has led to the collapse of social cohesion and will deal serious blows to Israeli economy and will question the international credibility of the regime in many fields, and so they try to immediately remove the radicals from the power as they find their continued rule detrimental to national interests.
There have also been reports of soldiers and officers escaping from the barracks, which has sounded the alarms for Tel Aviv authorities. Criticizing the actions of Netanyahu’s cabinet, the troops and senior officers of the reserve units in the army and air force emphasize that if the government actions continue, they will quit military service, and ask the army chief of staff to stand by them. Even employees of the intelligence service, Mossad, have joined the protesters in recent days, arousing the ire of the government.
Itamar Raschel, the former chief of personnel unit at the Israeli military, says that by 2026, the air force will lose 55 percent of its professional experience, and that means the long-term damage will be felt in the most important sector, namely manpower.
Yitzhak Brick, the former commander of the Israeli military academies, admitted that weakness does not just effect the air force but is in other military sectors.
The Israeli military circles believe that the army is in dire conditions because of the numerous decisions made by its leaders in recent years and that its forces do not have a significant level of preparation. According to Israeli military officials, the decisions of the army chiefs have led to a drop in efficiency of the soldiers and a permanent decrease in the motivation of young people to do military service. The security forces were responsible for the security of the settlers when they attacked the West Bank, but after the extremists gained power, they faced the rebel settlers, and last week, the army forces did not allow them to enter the Huwara town in Nablus for the second time, showing that the division in the army works against the government policies.
The Israelis believe that Netanyahu’s hardline cabinet is moving to dictatorship and threatens the so-called democracy in Israeli regime with its controversial plans like judicial reforms.
Every week on Saturdays, tens of thousands of people protest against the policies of the Netanyahu government in different cities. They have said that they will continue their protests until their goal, which is the overthrow of the government, is realized. These protests, growing larger and larger every week, have caused Netanyahu to use the security forces to maintain his fragile government and restore peace. This week the protests turned violent as the security forces sought a crackdown on the protesters.
Political implications of army mutiny
Impairment of the military body would be of grave consequences to the Israeli regime. Hardline ministers, especially National Security Minister Itmar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, intended to strengthen the army and repress the Palestinian groups and restore security and stability to the occupied territories. But now they find this goal difficult to realize and any anti-Palestinian plan would meet its failure. This is while the Palestinian groups are becoming more powerful day by day, and as much as the Israelis avoid serving in the army and join the anti-government protesters, the Palestinians join to the resistance groups, and in terms of the number of forces, the balance is in favor of the Palestinians.
One of the major factors that has undermined the Israeli security layers is Tel Aviv’s defeats in confrontation of the resistance groups, something the Israelis themselves admit. The fruitless wars on Gaza that proved costly to the Israeli have sunken the military in frustration. Now, the military forces are not inclined to sacrifice their lives for political interests of their leaders. Additionally, the higher escalation of tensions, the bigger risks to the Israeli security, and this is something the Israelis do not wish.
The depression of thousands of army officers and soldiers and the widespread wave of suicides in recent years are caused by the effects of wars that the Israeli military live every day. Arab media recently reported that Israel is going through the most difficult dilemma and that what is happening in the West Bank is a huge chaos that is harming the capability of the Israeli occupation army to carry out its routine missions in the West Bank. Nevertheless, with the collapse of the Israeli army, the resistance groups will deal heavy blows to the settlers and the casualties of this regime against the Palestinians would increase.
Netanyahu has always bragged about the Israeli air force being the superior force in the region, but it seems that the force is going through its decline. The Israelis can no longer rely on their military forces to deal with the resistance groups in Palestine and the region. Netanyahu wanted to use these pilots to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and Syrian territory, but they even rejected to fly him to Italy for an official visit.
On the other side, Netanyahu tries to shore up the Israeli power in the region through normalization with Persian Gulf Arab rulers. To lure them into the process, he gives them security guarantees; security that is supposed to be guaranteed by the same embattled Israeli military. But the reality is that this military is not even able to provide the security of the settlers, let alone the security of the Arabs. Therefore, if the weakening of the Israeli military continues, this issue can have a negative impact on the approach of the comprising Arab states on normalization. After all, one of their main goals of normalization is that with the help of this regime they can form a coalition and eliminate the alleged Iranian threats, and since 2020, they have signed security contracts to buy weapons from Tel Aviv, but if the Israeli crisis continues, the Arabs will reconsider their policy as they would understand they are clinging to a worn rope.
Israeli regime on the decline
Just two months ago and during Netanyahu cabinet confidence vote, previous government officials warned that rise of the far-right would pose a threat to the Israeli existence. However, nobody was thinking that the occupied territories would sink in such a crisis in a short time. For 75 years, the Israeli officials claimed that the unity of Israelis is getting stronger day by day, and they even planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary, but now they openly admit to the collapse from within.
After Netanyahu and his friends assumed the power, the Israeli President Isaac Herzog repeatedly warned that this regime is on the verge of collapse, and citing historical narratives, he even says that Israel may not see its 80th birthday. Such statements by the highest-ranking Israeli officials are not irrelevant, and the developments of recent months clearly show this fact that this regime is nearing its end, and this collapse will not be caused by the Palestinians and the Axis of Resistance, but by the Israeli themselves.
In addition to the Israeli officials, their Western allies admit this issue. Michel Bloomberg, the head of Bloomberg media corporation, in a piece published by the New York Times warns “Israel is courting disaster.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is courting disaster by trying to claim that same power, imperiling Israel’s alliances around the world, its security in the region, its economy at home and the very democracy upon which the country was built,” Bloomberg warns, adding: “I have never gotten involved in its domestic politics or criticized its government initiatives. But my love for Israel, my respect for its people and my concern about its future are now leading me to speak out against the current government’s attempt to effectively abolish the nation’s independent judiciary.”
American and European officials have expressed their concern about the controversial plans of the hardliners and demanded an end to the actions that, according to them, could intensify the tensions in the occupied territories.
The candid remarks of the Israeli officials and their Western backers concerning the Israeli collapse from within beside the army disobedience demonstrate that the situation is more disastrous than what the media depict. Actually, this crisis has existed for eight decades like fire under the ashes requiring a spark. The hardliners unwantedly triggered it off.