IDF chief: Military ‘cohesion has been harmed’; we must ‘prevent the cracks from widening’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 18, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 18, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi in a written statement to troops says the unity of the Israel Defense Forces has been harmed amid calls by reservists to end their volunteer duty in protest of the government’s controversial plans to overhaul the judiciary.

“We have acted to keep [the IDF] out of the debate, but due to its intensity in Israeli society, we were pulled into it, and the cohesion [of the military] has been harmed,” Chief of Staff Halevi writes. “It is our duty to prevent these cracks from widening.”

Halevi says he won’t discuss the debate on the overhaul, but that the IDF’s role is to “protect the country, including to allow debate in safe conditions.”

He goes on to say that the “cracks” in the military’s unity “are dangerous.”

“A ground troop may mistakenly think a pilot in the Air Force won’t assist them because of the debate; and a pilot may mistakenly think they do not need to prepare and remain battle-ready, when in reality, they may be needed soon,” Halevi says.

“Even if there is a debate, cohesion is of utmost importance,” he continues.

Halevi says serving in the IDF is “an obligation which is a great privilege” for both standing and reserve forces.

“None of the service members have the right to say that they are not serving anymore, and they have no right to not show up for duty or refuse an order,” he says.

Halevi says the IDF “is strong because of its people… We have no other nation and we have no other IDF.”

He says it’s not too late to fix the harm caused to the IDF’s unity. “This is the only way we will be able to maintain the IDF’s role in defending the country and ensuring its existence.”

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