Anti-gov’t pilot protests hurt IAF readiness – senior official

For the first time, a military official admits that pilot’s mass refusals to show up for periodic training had a negative impact on IAF operational readiness.

By World Israel News Staff

A senior military official admitted on Wednesday that mass refusals of pilots to report to reserve duty in 2023 negatively impacted the Air Force’s operational readiness and efficacy.

In spring 2023, at least 500 pilots and hundreds of other reservists in crucial roles announced that they would not participate in periodic training, as an act of protest against reforms to the judicial system proposed by the Israeli government.

Speaking at a conference at the Holon Institute of Technology, Lt. Col. Y said that following the October 7th terror onslaught, a significant number of Air Force reservists called up were woefully unprepared for combat.

“There were many reservists in sensitive positions who were in a state of incompetence,” Hebrew-language Mako quoted him as saying.

He added that the Air Force was left scrambling to develop a fast-tracked training program to ensure that reservists were battle-ready, as many “were unfit for duty.”

Lt. Col. Y’s comments mark the first time that the Air Force has formally admitted that the pilot refusals to perform reserve duty damaged its ability to operate.

However, after the remarks were picked up in Hebrew-language media, the Air Force released it own statement.

The Air Force claimed that its response to the unprecedented Hamas attacks on October 7th had not been affected by the refusals.

In July 2023, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that “calls encouraging refusal and stopping the volunteering of reservists threaten the unity of the ranks, are dangerous, and are a reward for our enemy.”

However, many high-ranking security officials, including former leaders in the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies, praised the refusals.

In March 2023, the Palestine Today News Agency quoted an analyst stating that the Israeli army was “disintegrating” due to the protests.

Should the “disintegration” of the Israeli military continue, the analyst said, “the Zionist army will not be ready for all the fronts surrounding it” during a future conflict.