IDF Lt.-Col. (res.) Shlomo Rizman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former reserve service commander, accused Netanyahu on Tuesday of ditching reserve service after the prime minister attacked reservists who had threatened to not show up for reserve service in a speech on Monday evening.
In a letter published on Tuesday and shared by Channel 13, Rizman referred to past statements by Netanyahu and members of the coalition against reservists who had threatened to not show up for reserve service if the judicial reform was passed, including statements by Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distal Atbaryan calling reserve service pilots "a crowd of weaklings."
"Let's speak about you as a reserve soldier," wrote Rizman. "In the First Lebanon War, Danny B. of blessed memory shared with me that he assigned you a mission as part of your unit's reserve service. The task was not to your liking and you 'ditched' him and disappeared."
Rizman then referred to his time as Netanyahu's reserve service commander, saying that while his unit "bowed under the burden" and the rest of the reserve soldiers did 40-70 days of service per year, Netanyahu "did a tiny number of reserve service days and therefore I removed [him] from the unit's force."
"Unlike you, the reserve soldiers you are lashing out at 'grind' reserve service days without excuses or tall tales, and they are not 'insubordinate.' You are insubordinate. You refuse to stop the trampling of democracy and the IDF," concluded Rizman.
Netanyahu says commander's letter is a 'complete lie'
Netanyahu's office responded to the letter on Tuesday afternoon, calling the claims "a total fabrication" and adding that Reizman was not Netanyahu's commander in reserve service at any point.
"Netanyahu dedicated his life to Israel's security and even risked his life several times in firefights in the war of attrition in the Suez Canal and in many operations. He was even injured in the operation to free the hijackers of the Savannah plane," said his office.
מטעמו של ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו:הטענות של שלומי רייזמן הן שקר מוחלט. הוא כלל לא היה מפקדו במילואים של ראש הממשלה נתניהו, שכן כשרייזמן מונה למג״ד במילואים נתניהו כבר שירת את המדינה כציר ישראל בוושינגטון וכשגריר ישראל באו״ם.ראש הממשלה נתניהו הקדיש את חייו למען ביטחון ישראל…— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) April 11, 2023
"As a reservist, Netanyahu returned from his studies in the US in order to participate in the Yom Kippur War and a year later he returned again from his studies abroad to volunteer for reserve service."
Netanyahu's office noted that a month before the First Lebanon War, he was appointed as Israel's envoy to Washington and the war itself broke out on the eve of his departure to the US.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived at his unit and shortly after went on a special tour of the Chouf Mountains above Beirut, prepared for his political mission. From there, he immediately went to Washington and stood by Moshe Arens' side at the forefront of Israel's difficult political and propaganda struggle throughout the war."
Netanyahu accuses reserve forces of encouraging Israel's enemies
During a speech at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Monday, Netanyahu attacked reserve forces who had threatened to refuse to show up for service in protest against the judicial reform, accusing them of damaging national security and encouraging Israel's enemies.
Netanyahu served in the Sayeret Matkal special forces during his IDF service.