Some Israeli military stop volunteering for duty in protest of judicial overhaul



About 700 Israelis who say they are in the nation's military and intelligence units said they will no longer report for duty on Sunday, March 19, if the proposed overhaul to Israel's judicial system is approved by the far-right leadership.

In a letter distributed to Israeli media, the officers say they are volunteer reservists in the Air Force, special forces, Mossad, and Shin Bet.

“We have no contract with a dictator. We would like to volunteer when democracy is secured,” the letter reads.

Military service is compulsory for Israelis for one or two years, but some continue to serve in reserve duty.

In response Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded his military chiefs to contain the protests from within the armed forces.

“I expect from the military chief of staff and the heads of the branches of the security services to aggressively combat the refusal to serve. There’s no place for refusal to serve in the public discourse,” Netanyahu said.

The military’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi, reportedly warned Netanyahu that the reservists’ protest risks harming the military’s capabilities, the Associated Press reports.

Massive protests against the proposed judicial changes have taken place in Israel for the last two months. Over the weekend protestors were detained in Tel Aviv, and police deployed a water cannon on a crowd in Karkur, in northern Israel.

Protestors say Netanyahu's proposed changes would restrict the power of the Supreme Court and put its independence in jeopardy, while the far-right government says the changes are necessary to stop the excessive power of judges who are not elected.

Netanyahu has rejected attempts at compromise. The proposal id due to come into force by April 2.