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Netanyahu’s tension with Israeli security brass boils over amid accusations of dictatorship

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries concealing from the public the damage caused to the readiness of the IDF by the refusal of reserve officers to show up for duty.
Efroni T-6 Texan II planes take off during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israel Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, Israel, June 27, 2019.

TEL AVIV — The growing tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the top military brass have reached a new high. Netanyahu has been trying to prevent the army from informing the public of the repercussions of the judicial overhaul protests on the readiness of the Israel Defense Forces as reserve officers refuse to show up for duty.

Israel has known friction between the political and military echelons over the years, but reasonableness and logic have generally prevailed. Not so in recent months. While Netanyahu and a group of hard-line politicians have been framing Israeli security leaders as enemies and traitors, senior officers and hundreds of former leaders of the army, Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and other institutions are accusing the government of turning Israel into a dictatorship. 

As the government plows ahead with its judicial overhaul, disregarding more than seven months of mass protests and high-level warnings, the top military brass is at a loss. This internal war can have only one winner: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

The latest incident in this worsening public climate occurred over the weekend, when Israel air force commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar met with a group of some 60 reserve pilots who had suspended their service to protest the judicial overhaul. 

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