Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, July 18, 2023.

IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi on Sunday morning issued a letter to IDF soldiers addressing the fundamental differences of opinion in Israel that have recently given rise to the phenomenon of refusal to serve in the reserves––which is growing stronger––fueling fears that the army’s readiness for war is diminishing. Halevi explained that although political dispute is justified, it must not affect the functioning of the IDF.

“At the start of a complex week, I would like to write about the need for high preparedness due to the assessment of the situation; I would like to write about security following the difficult cases we encountered recently, but the urgent issues outweigh the important ones,” wrote Halevi. “I need to talk to you about the importance of readiness and cohesion in times of controversy. We labored to stay out of the controversy, but given its intensity in Israeli society, we got caught up in it and the cohesion was impaired. It is our duty to prevent the cracks from widening.”


“I will not address the essence of the dispute in Israeli society – it is legitimate. The role of the IDF is to protect the country, among other things, so that a dispute can be engaged under safe conditions. When the dispute spills over into the ranks of the IDF and cracks open in it, an infantry fighter may make a mistake and think that an Air Force pilot will not help him because of that dispute; an Air Force pilot may make a mistake and think that it is possible not to prepare and maintain fitness for war, when in practice, we may need him very soon; these are dangerous cracks,” Halevi wrote.

Halevi was referencing a recent, rather crude video depicting an imagined scene in which an air force pilot grills an infantry fighter on his position on the judicial reform before deciding to assist him. Soon enough, the fighter is killed by the enemy.

Halevi addressed the threats of refusal to serve and made it clear unequivocally that they have no place in the public discourse: “Service in the IDF is a duty that is a great privilege, both for enlisted and reserve soldiers. If we don’t have a strong and cohesive army, if the best do not serve in the IDF – we will no longer be able to exist as a country in the region.

“Therefore, none of the reservists has the right to say that he is no longer serving and we have no right not to show up or to refuse an order or call. I call on all reservists, even in these complex days, to separate civil protest from security service and report. The calls for non-attendance are hurting the IDF.”

The Chief of Staff stressed: “Our reservists are very dear to us and their contribution to the security of the country is great. I appreciate everyone, even those who made a difficult decision with a heavy heart and signed with a trembling hand that they would not show up; I urge them to return to service. The criticism toward this decision of some of the reserve personnel should be expressed with respect, without forgetting all that they did for the country, for us, and with us.”

Herzi Halevi’s letter to soldiers, July 23, 2023.

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