Israel at the Brink: Ignoring High Court Spells a Defense Disaster!

Having dedicated a quarter of a century of my life to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), I’ve witnessed firsthand the resilience, dedication, and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. When 169 former top Israeli officials – those who were at the helm of our defense infrastructure – express grave concerns, it is not only their right but their duty, and we must listen.

The essence of their message, as published in Yedioth Ahronot today (Friday), is unambiguous: The very foundation of our defense apparatus is under threat if the government sidesteps the High Court of Justice’s decisions.

The Importance of Institutional Trust

In my 25 years of service, I observed and spoke for the strength of the IDF. That strength did not come from its cutting-edge technology, rigorous training, or tactical prowess. More meaningful was the vital trust embedded within Israel’s institutions. Our soldiers must have faith that their superiors, and by extension, the government, operate within the bounds of legality and moral integrity. By not adhering to the High Court’s decisions, Netanyahu’s government risks eroding this bedrock of trust. The symptoms are already apparent as the IDF Spokesman, Brigadier General, Daniel Hagari, announced this week on national television the damage to IDF’s operational preparedness.

Operational Capabilities: More than Just Hardware

The warning from top former officials, with an accumulated 6000 years of service in the defense of Israel, about the IDF’s operational capabilities declining below the “red line” is alarming. This week we saw an uptick in saber-rattling by Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, warning to “return Lebanon to the Stone Age”. It’s clear that something is brewing. Beyond the tangible assets and firepower, operational capability encompasses morale, unity, and the belief that one is fighting for a just cause. If our soldiers begin to doubt the righteousness of their missions or the legitimacy of their directives, it can lead to hesitation, division, and ultimately operational failure. This will cost Israeli lives.

The Global Repercussions

As an international spokesman, our battles are not only fought on our borders; they are also contested in the court of global public opinion. Ignoring our own High Court paves the way for international bodies, like the International Criminal Court, to level charges against our forces. This not only ties our hands in international diplomacy but also paints our forces, who risk their lives daily, as violators of international law.

A Plea for Unity and Respect

Our nation’s security, which I and many others have dedicated our lives to ensuring, cannot be taken for granted. As someone who has served alongside the best of our country and hoped that I was worthy of them, I urge our government to heed the warnings of our experienced leaders. Respecting the rule of law is not a sign of weakness but a testament to our strength, unity, and enduring commitment to the values we hold dear.

A Path Forward: Urgent Action Needed

As we stand at this critical crossroads, immediate and deliberate action is paramount. The consequences of inaction are multifold: from a disillusioned defense force questioning its very purpose, to international sanctions and isolation, potentially hampering our diplomatic ties and economic relations. It’s not just about the IDF; it’s about the collective Israeli consciousness, our global image, and the future trajectory of our nation. Netanyahu and his government must state in a loud and clear message that it will reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law. Only through understanding, unity, and decisive action can we chart a course that safeguards our nation’s integrity and future.

169 signatories from the defense
About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel (R) Peter Lerner, Director-General of International Relations at Histadrut, oversees global activities, fostering mutual learning and international solidarity within the labor movement. As a senior advisor to the chairman and leadership, he plays a pivotal role. Peter's nomination by the International Trade Union Confederation as a member of the ILO Governing Body in 2021 marked a significant milestone for Histadrut. Beyond his Histadrut roles, Peter serves as a board member for the National Insurance Institute and holds director positions in Histadrut enterprises. Formerly, he served the Israel Defense Forces for 25 years, gaining prominence as the IDF spokesperson. Peter holds a Masters in Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution and Management, and a BA in Social Sciences from Bar Ilan University.