‘You shoot him’: Likud MK appears to suggest executing pilots who protested overhaul

Nissim Vaturi rails at air force members who threatened to skip training over judicial shakeup plans, says ‘people like this need to be kicked in the ass and get out of the army’

File: Likud MK Nissim Vaturi, May 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Likud MK Nissim Vaturi, May 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Friday appeared to suggest executing Israeli Air Force reserve pilots who threatened to skip training in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul plans.

Speaking on the Twitter Spaces chat platform, Likud MK Nissim Vaturi unloaded on the protesting pilots, who in late March resumed training after Netanyahu paused the judicial legislation to allow for negotiations with the opposition amid growing unrest.

If acted on, the pilots’ threat could have had serious implications, as those who fail to report for weekly training sessions are not certified to fly operational missions.

“It can’t be that pilots decide if we attack Iran or not. This can’t exist in any democratic country, especially not here in Israel,” Vaturi can be heard saying in a recording provided to the Haaretz daily. “In other cases, people who are traitors on the battlefield, a soldier betrays you, I don’t want to say this [but] you shoot him.”

“You simply execute him on the battlefield,” he added.

Vaturi, a deputy Knesset speaker, went on to claim that it’s permitted to kill a captain who betrayed his ship.

“And that’s how it goes down. There can’t be insubordination from any side,” he said.

The Likud MK also said the pilots should’ve been booted from the military over the protest.

“The gravest mistake is that this wasn’t handled immediately and they weren’t told ‘you’re not in the army anymore,'” he said. “People like this need to be kicked in the ass and get out of the army.”

File: An IAF F-15I fighter jet of the 69th squadron takes off from Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel, during a pilots graduation ceremony, June 22, 2022. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

The remarks capped a week that began with Vaturi saying that former prime minister Ehud Barak’s intense criticism of the push to remake the judiciary would get him executed “in other countries,” while in Israel he should go to prison for “at least 20 years.”

Vaturi later called Barak “human waste” and said he should have been jailed long ago, after the latter called for a nonviolent civil uprising against Netanyahu’s government if it pursues its contentious plans to overhaul the judicial system.

Originally introduced in January by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the proposed judicial overhaul would eliminate much of the Israeli legal establishment’s ability to serve as a check on the government’s power. Critics say it would destroy Israel’s democracy, while proponents say it’s essential to tackle an overly active judiciary.

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