Israeli Elite Forces Fighter Pilots Strike Training, Protest Justice Reform


Israeli F15 fighter jets take off during a joint international aerial exercise at the Uvda military airbase in southern Israel. Photo/REUTERS

TEL AVIV – The Israeli Air Force’s elite fighter jet squadron made headlines in the Jewish state after its pilots announced they were boycotting a routine exercise.

The move comes amid growing dissatisfaction with the planned judicial reforms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Thirty-seven of the 40 reserve pilots serving in the 69th fighter squadron said last Sunday (5/3/2023) that they would boycott the training session on Wednesday (8/3/2023) in solidarity with anti-judicial reform protesters.

The judicial reforms, which sparked massive protests in Israel, would allow the government to control the appointment of judges, including Supreme Court justices, and allow parliament to overturn decisions by a simple majority.

On Tuesday night, the pilots softened their stance and announced they would report to the unit, but only to discuss political developments with their commanders.

“We responded to our commander’s call and will report to the unit tomorrow for dialogue with the army. We have full confidence in our commanders, and we will continue to serve the Jews and the democratic State of Israel as long as necessary,” the protesting pilots said in a statement quoted by Israeli media.

A lieutenant colonel serving in the unit told the Jerusalem Post that, “The pilots will continue to serve Jews and democratic Israel, beyond enemy borders at all times.”

However, he said, “They have decided to take a day off from their scheduled training to talk about the worrying process the country is going through.”

He added, “Pilots need dialogue on issues that affect them.”

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