Israeli youths defy conscription to protest judicial overhaul

Around 220 Israeli youths on Wednesday announced their rejection of the military draft in protest against the government's judicial overhaul plan, further raising concerns over the plan's potential impact on the country's military preparedness.

The group, known as "Youths Against Dictatorship," said in a statement that about 220 high school students have decided to reject the mandatory conscription due to the legal overhaul, which has sparked mass demonstrations across the country for 34 consecutive weeks.

"We will decline to serve a government that undermines the judicial system," they wrote, adding that on Sunday they will release an open letter to the army, formally declaring their intent to refuse.

In late July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition passed a contentious law that revoked the supreme court's authority to overturn government decisions.

As a response, thousands of reservists have opted not to report to their military units. The recent letter from the teenagers highlights a worrying progression of the refusal, from reservists to regular soldiers.

There are no official figures on the actual number of reservists who have chosen to discontinue their service. However, military analysts and former army chiefs, including Gadi Eizenkot, Israel's previous Chief of General Staff who currently serves as a lawmaker, have cautioned about a potential decrease in military readiness.

At least 1,100 Air Force personnel, including about 500 pilots, have already declared in a statement that they will not show up for service. Recently, they were joined by an additional 10,000 reservists from various military units.

Earlier in August, Chief of the Israeli Air Force Tomer Bar conveyed a cautionary message to reservists during a discussion, revealing that the effect of these refusals on the Air Force's preparedness is intensifying, as reported by the state-owned Kan TV news.

He further remarked that morale within the Air Force has notably declined and will demand a significant duration for recuperation.

The overhaul aims to weaken the legal system and mainly the supreme court. Opponents argue that it undermines the rule of law in Israel, while Netanyahu's ultranationalist government maintains that the reform is necessary to curb the overly activist and "leftist" legal system.

(Cover: Protesters participate in a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial overhaul in Petah Tikva, Israel, August 17, 2023. /CFP)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency

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