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March 5, 2023 12:36 pm

Israeli Fighter Pilots Refuse to Train in Protest of Judicial Reform

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avatar by i24 News

An Israeli Air Force F-35 ‘Adir’ fighter jet. Photo: Major Ofer / Israeli Air Force.

i24 NewsA total of 37 reserve pilots out of the 40 members of an elite Israel Air Force (IAF) unit announced that they will absent themselves from a scheduled training this week in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul.

Air Force Squadron 69 is one of the top units in the IAF. It operates the advanced F-15 Thunderbird aircraft that serve as the Israeli military’s long-range attack arm.

They said they would return to regular training only in the event if the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halts its attempts to push the controversial packet of reforms through to approval by lawmakers.

The legislation would give the government more power to select High Court judges, and would deny the court the right to strike down any amendments to so-called Basic Laws, Israel’s quasi-constitution. Critics say it threatens to disrupt the balance between branches of government, while supporters say it’s necessary to curb so-called “judicial activism.”

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In the past few weeks a growing number of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists threatened to boycott military service unless the reform is taken off the table.

Moreover, 10 combat soldiers from the unit that conducted one of Israel’s most storied anti-terrorism operations under the leadership of Netanyahu’s late brother wrote to the premier, saying that he is “knowingly and with open eyes sacrificing the State of Israel and the people of Israel for his own political interests.”

The Entebbe operation in 1976 saved 98 passengers after their plane was hijacked by the The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and diverted to Uganda, which was complicit with the Palestinian kidnapping attempt.

The only Israeli commando casualty of the high risk operation at the Entebbe airport was Yoni Netanyahu, Benjamin’s elder brother.

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