Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in a special closed session at military headquarters that the IDF is still war-ready, but that continued quitting by reservists en masse protesting government policy could erode that readiness in the medium term.
No top defense officials want to define what that time period would be, and war readiness is not a binary concept, with different units being at different states of readiness and distinct kinds of missions requiring more reservists, while others require less.
But Gallant warned that if the cohesion of the IDF collapses, the situation could drastically worsen.
Gallant: Harm to national resilience could result in harm to national security
“The IDF is ready to accomplish its missions…The harm to readiness so far is defined [somewhat contained], but there is a possibility of harm to readiness over the long term,” he said.
Further, he said, “many components of the country’s resilience are trending negatively, and the harm to national resilience could result in harm to national security.”
Despite these warnings, the defense minister also cautioned Israel’s enemies saying, “Israel’s enemies are analyzing and learning from our internal events in Israel and believe, mistakenly, that this gives them the opportunity to exploit what they see as the State of Israel’s weakness.” In contrast, he said that they should still fear Israel’s military.
Senior IDF officials have repeatedly warned that Iran and Hezbollah believe they can push the IDF more in the current environment without too much of a reaction, as long as they too keep the provocations below a certain level.
FADC Chairman MK Yuli Edelstein said, “in contrast to all kinds of media items claiming that we do not convene the committee – the committee already heard from the IDF chief…and now we hear the survey of the defense minister…and I am sure that we will continue our oversight.”
Though Edelstein was correct that IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi spoke to the committee a few weeks ago about the IDF’s readiness and that Gallant was briefing them on Monday, Halevi’s briefing was primarily on other issues, with only a piece dedicated to IDF readiness.
Furthermore, Gallant’s briefing only occurred after the all-important vote repealing the reasonableness standard had already taken place.
In that sense, critics have said that Edelstein avoided too much oversight or negative data from the IDF or Gallant during the time period when the vote was in the balance.
In addition, unlike previous FADC meetings which sometimes demanded certain actions, such as reducing or ending the Shin Bet’s surveillance of infected persons during the coronavirus era by certain benchmark dates, Edelstein announced no demands or benchmarks for which he would press for changes in government policy if IDF readiness dropped below any specific measure.
Moreover, the committee meeting came after a lapse of time from when opposition members had asked for such a meeting, and with Edelstein admitting in an interview last weekend that he had not had a loud enough voice before the repeal vote.
Besides Gallant, IDF Operation Command Maj. Gen,. Oded Bassiuk, IDF Intelligence Analysis Brig. Gen. “A”, IDF Acting Head of Brigade-Level Planning Brig. Gen. Yair Nitnas, IDF Human Resources Command chief-of-staff Brig. Gen. Yoram Kanfou all presented as well. IDF chief lawyer Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer was also present, though no mention was made in the public statement about whether she presented concerns about the International Criminal Court regarding the recent repeal of the reasonableness standard.
National Unity party leader and former defense minister Benny Gantz, MK and former justice minister Gideon Sa’ar, and Labor party leader Merav Michaeli were among some of the opposition MKs in attendance.
Some of the opposition members complained that they were not given complete statistics regarding IDF readiness for specific units.
IDF chief: Israeli military will continue to 'hug' all reservists
Meanwhile, late Monday night, the IDF released quotes that Halevi made to senior IDF officials at the level of colonel and higher over Sunday and Monday.
Addressing the reservist issues, Halevi said he expected the commanders to show sensitivity and patience with reservists while remaining on guard against security threats.
Further, he said that the IDF would continue "to hug" all reservists, complimenting those who continue to serve and trying to convince those who have quit over government policy to return.