Outgoing IDF spokesperson: Not a single case of refusing to serve due to judicial reform

Opposition to judicial reform has not prevented any army exercise from taking place, but Israel’s enemies sense weakness due to the controversy, says Ran Kochav.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Outgoing IDF spokesman Ran Kochav said that he knows of no case of anyone refusing to serve in the army due to anger over the government’s planned judicial reform, with the public threats of refusal remaining in the theoretical realm.

Speaking on Kan Reshet Bet, Kochav, who retired from his position Thursday, said, “I don’t know of a single case of refusal, certainly not in the regular army. Even the many reservists who expressed indignation about the protest issues essentially spoke hypothetically – ‘if [the legislation] passes,’ and ‘if it happens.’”

“There was no training exercise that did not take place because of the protests,” he stated.

Nevertheless, “whoever thinks that this controversy has no effect on the IDF is at the very least not being precise,” he added, noting that the IDF “is the people’s army.”

Prompted for specifics, he talked of reservists who go to protests, “for both sides, if you will,” and then come for a drill or operation “the next day. So it has an effect.”

“However,” he maintained, “they don’t talk about it much in the standing army, there aren’t many arguments, because it really touches on politics,” which the officers must avoid.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the government have said that harsher measures should be taken against those who threaten not to serve.

”We debated about this a great deal, and the chief of staff decided that the discussion would remain internal, between the commanders and their troops,” Kochav said, adding that he believes it was the right decision.

“There were many discussions over whether to punish, whether to react, whether it should be accepted or understood – or allowed…It was not clear-cut to say that it couldn’t touch … anyone who served, or the reservists,” he said.

Asked if he thought Israel’s enemies sensed weakness now, with the mass protests shaking the country, he immediately replied, ”Yes, I think so, based on the intelligence reports I see and from the situational assessment” that occurs on a weekly basis in the General Staff, which he attended for the last time just the day before.

“Our enemies are rubbing their hands with enjoyment, seeing us argue among ourselves. It could be that they see weakness on both a security level and socially, our cohesion and unity regarding our [national] mission.”

Military commentator Yossi Yehoshua told Yediot Aharonot on Friday that the reservists who threatened to boycott training sessions had in fact retired from service some time ago.