Over 1000 Israeli Air Force reservists, from pilots to drone operators, announced the end of their reserve duty on Friday, according to Israeli media.
The move comes in response to the judicial reform legislation and has raised questions about the potential impact on the Air Force's operational capabilities and readiness.
Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar addressed the issue on Thursday with a statement that he "stands [firm] on the principle of continued [service] and will continue to stand by it. The military has many challenges and we must meet them," according to Maariv.
Reservists expressed concerns, others criticized
In a letter addressed to the IDF chief of staff, the Air Force commander, and members of the Knesset, the reservists expressed their concerns about the potential consequences of the reform on the fabric of Israeli society.
"In these difficult days - it is our duty to prevent the destruction of the Third Temple! It is our collective responsibility to stop the internal division, discord, and deep schism that has spread among the people," the letters stated. "The Jewish and democratic identity of our state is dear to all the people of Israel - it is the covenant signed by all segments of society in the Declaration of Independence. This foundation represents the core of the Israeli society's agreement, based on which we all serve the State of Israel with dedication and commitment under governments of all political persuasions."
"When we pledged to dedicate our lives to the country, we never thought we would reach a day where the contract between us and the state would be breached," the Brothers in Arms group said in a statement. "For decades, we left everything behind and came forward resolutely to defend Israel, and now we find ourselves fighting for democracy. The declaration of our fellow pilots, who always stand up to defend Israeli citizens, is another red flag raised against the government that undermines Israeli democracy and the people's army. Halt the legislation before it is too late, because an army in a democracy has no substitute."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the reservists in a statement on Thursday evening, saying, "What endangers democracy is the refusal, the refusal endangers the security of all Israeli citizens. In a democracy, the military is subordinate to the government and not the other way around.
"If they dictate threats, it is unacceptable, and if they succeed, it is the end of democracy. A responsible government cannot agree to this, and every citizen must oppose it. I want to say that in the past, many Israeli citizens disagreed with the actions of previous governments, and opposed the Oslo Accords and disengagement.
"Although they disagreed with these actions, no one ever made a dire threat of refusal to try and thwart the decisions."