Israel's air force chief issues a security alert following the passage of judicial reform
Israel's air force chief issues a security alert following the passage of judicial reform

Jerusalem: The commander of Israel's air force warned on Friday that the country's adversaries might take advantage of a political upheaval brought on by a judicial reform that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted would not threaten democracy.

Tomer Bar emphasised the need for his forces to remain "vigilant and prepared" after the parliament on Monday approved the first of Prime Minister Netanyahu's hotly contested changes, which eliminated the Supreme Court's ability to overturn actions it deems to be "unreasonable" by the government and its ministers.

According to a statement on Friday, Bar told his troops, "It is possible that at a time like this they (Israel's enemies) will try to test the frontiers, our cohesion, and our alertness." He said nothing further.

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The reforms being pursued by Netanyahu and his right-wing administration have caused a seven-month crisis, unprecedented protests, a widening social chasm, and a test of some army reservists' allegiance.

Even as he maintains his innocence in a corruption trial, protesters charge Netanyahu with trying to limit court independence. Eran Schwartz, one of their leaders, predicted that protests would go on all day Saturday in 150 different locations.

Israel's Ynet news reported that Netanyahu received at least four letters from Military Intelligence warning of serious security ramifications due to the judicial reform as the crisis grew worse after Monday's vote.

According to the report, senior intelligence officials claimed that Iran and Hezbollah, Israel's adversaries in Lebanon, saw the crisis as a historically low point for the nation.

The prime minister's spokesman declined to comment.
Earlier on Thursday night, Netanyahu went on the attack, giving several interviews to US media.

According to Netanyahu, who was speaking to ABC News, the modification to one of Israel's Basic Laws—which serve as the country's formal constitution—was "a minor correction" to a "activist" court.

"It's described as the end of Israeli democracy — I think that's silly and when the dust settles, everybody will see it," he claimed.

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In response to a query on CNN about whether he would abide by a potential Supreme Court decision invalidating Monday's amendment, Netanyahu dodged the issue.

Netanyahu would be "implementing a judicial coup" if he disobeyed a court order, according to opposition leader Benny Gantz.

According to protesters, a growing number of military reservists have chosen to resign from their positions in order to voice their opposition to the reform. The military has acknowledged a rise in requests to excuse themselves from duty and warned that, should the no-shows persist, the war-readiness would gradually suffer.

Referring to the upcoming summer break for parliament, protest leader Schwartz told Army Radio that lawmakers and ministers "should not be allowed to rest when they are leading us towards such a horrible moment."
Political watchdog organisations have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the new law, opening the door to a showdown between the executive and legislative branches when the court hears the arguments in September.
The legal battle could start on Thursday when the top court hears an appeal against a coalition bill that was ratified in March and restricted the circumstances under which the prime minister could be removed from office.

The Supreme Court is regarded as essential for preserving the rule of law and civil rights in Israel because the country's democratic foundations are relatively shaky. The president's office is largely ceremonial, there is no constitution, and the government has a 64–56 majority in the single chamber of the Knesset.

The balance of government branches will be restored, according to the prime minister. The protests, in his view, are an attempt to undermine his democratic mandate.

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The economic impact of Netanyahu's plans has caused a flight of foreign investors. According to a report by S&P Global Ratings, this year's economic growth will be less due to the rising domestic political unrest.

Relations with Washington have also been hampered by the movement for judicial reform as well as the growth of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

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