IDF chief warns against assuming army immune to societal rifts

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy tells a Yom Kippur War memorial ceremony that people are mistaken if they think the army can operate as normal with society deeply split.

Halevy’s comments revive warnings that Israel’s military prowess may be harmed by divisions laid bare by the government’s push to radically alter the judiciary and massive sustained protests sparked by the legislative push.

“An argument that leaves behind it a polarizing divisive rift within Israeli society is dangerous,” he says.

“Given the security challenges, it’s arrogant to allow this polarizing debate and to assume that the IDF is immune from the effects of destructive polarization is a dangerous concept,” he says, alluding to mistaken assumptions held sacrosanct by Israel’s defense brass which allowed it to be surprised by a joint Syrian and Egyptian offensive in October 1973.

Halevy aims fire at those who have called for recruits to refuse combat service or for reservists to freeze volunteer duty, but also reprises criticism of politicians and others who have slung insults at protesting reservists and servicemembers.

“It’s forbidden to attack those in uniform, who have devoted years to Israel’s security, that’s irresponsible,” he says, according to a readout from his office. “Calling for the younger generation to refuse to enlist in combat service — that’s a dangerous conception. Calling to refuse to show up for missions by reservists harms security and the IDF.”

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