Israeli pilots are at the forefront of an intensifying crisis over the government’s intention to overhaul the country’s legal system. Most of the reservist pilots in the Air Force’s elite 69th Squadron have refused to report to a training exercise next week and national airline El Al had to scramble to find a crew willing to fly President Benjamin Netanyahu to Italy for a state visit. Ten former Air Force chiefs have released an open letter calling on Netanyahu to work out a solution to the crisis. “We are fearful over the consequences of these processes and the serious and tangible danger posed to the national security of the State of Israel,” the letter said.

Reservists form the core of the Israeli military and are therefore essential for the country’s defense. The pilots, like many others in the country, are concerned about provisions of the legal overhaul that would give the government full control over choosing judges and strip the Supreme Court the ability to strike down legislation. The BBC quoted an anonymous pilot as saying the protests signal “that we won’t be prepared to serve a dictatorial regime.” Netanyahu and members of his government have appealed to the pilots to turn up for duty.

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