In Israel, doctors went on a 24-hour strike, and more military reservists asked for their service to be suspended. This is a reaction to the controversial reform of the judiciary pushed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Yesterday, the government adopted one of its most important elements.
Over 1,100 air force reservists last week Israelincluding hundreds of pilots, signed a letter announcing that they would end voluntary service in the reserve, protesting the government’s plans to reform the judiciary.
Dozens of former top Israeli security officials, including the Mossad and Shin Bet, as well as military commanders, sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, urging him to halt work on judicial reform. The bill “shatters the foundations of Israeli society, tears the nation apart, dismantles the Israel Defense Forces (…). Legislative process violates the social contract that has been in force for 75 years between thousands of commanders and reserve soldiers.
“There has been an increase in requests to stop service.” The spokesman did not provide a number
On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters that “there has been an increase in the number of requests to stop the reserve service.” “If reservists don’t report for duty for a long time, military readiness will suffer,” he said. The spokesperson did not provide details on the number of applications.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotricz, in a commentary for Army Radio, stated that the army was in combat readiness, even though the reservists wanted to “put a gun to the head of the government”.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid asked reservist protesters to wait until the Supreme Court ruled on appeals against the new law. This has already been submitted, among others, by the Israeli Bar Association.
The day before, the Israeli parliament adopted one of the most important elements of the controversial reform limiting the powers of the Supreme Court. Until now, judges could overrule government decisions if they deemed them “irrational”, i.e. disproportionately focused on the political interest without sufficient consideration of the public interest.
Reuters noted that the crisis in Israel “deeply divided society and hit the economy hard, causing foreign investors to flee, weakening the currency and raising the specter of a general strike by the All-Israeli trade union Histadrut.
It was noted that decisions on changes in the judiciary would strain relations with the West, including with the United States, which expressed concerns about the planned reform.
The doctors protest. “Thousands of them will not be silent”
Doctors also protested in the country. On Tuesday, as part of the protest announced by the Israeli Medical Association, thousands of people did not show up for work. Their return to duty was ordered by the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court.
“Tomorrow, doctors will return to work, but I can say that thousands of them will not be silent because there is a strong feeling that we cannot work when Israel is no longer a democratic state,” said Hagai Levine, president of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians.
Earlier, on the night from Sunday to Monday, the Israel Business Forum, which includes about 150 of the largest companies in the country, decided to strike. Due to this decision, most gas stations in Israel were closed on Monday, as were shopping malls. The largest law firms also went on strike.
“We call on the prime minister to do his duty and understand the scale of the disaster that may ensue,” the Forum said in a statement.
The AP agency recalled that Netanyahu’s government, which took office in December, is the most nationalist and ultra-Orthodox government in Israel’s 75-year history. Critics of the judicial reform say it will upset the country’s fragile checks and balances and concentrate power in Netanyahu’s hands. As the prime minister is accused of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, the attempt to subject the courts to political scrutiny is, in their view, a manifestation of a conflict of interest.
Main photo source: Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images