The Israeli military has decided to cut by about one third the pay allotted to reserves soldiers who serve weeks, and sometimes months out of the year. The reason for the cut is the unusually high number of reservists who were called up for service during Israel’s Gaza offensive in November — Operation Pillar of Defense.
Israel Defense Forces reservists receive their yearly grant on May 1, in accordance with the number of days they served in the passed year. Before the cut, soldiers who served between 10 and 14.5 days received 1,290 shekels ($355); soldiers who served between 15 and 19.5 days received 2,580 shekels ($710); and soldiers who served between 20 and 37 days were eligible for a grant of 3,870 shekels ($1,065). Soldiers who served upwards of 37 days received a grant of 5,160 shekels ($1,420) in 2011.
This coming May, due to the planned budgeting, soldiers who served between 10 and 17.5 days in 2012 will receive 1,308 shekels ($360); soldiers who served between 18 and 26.5 days will receive 2,616 shekels ($720); soldiers who served between 27 and 35.5 days will receive 3,924 shekels ($1,080); and soldiers who served more than 36 days will get a grant of 5,232 ($1,140) shekels.
Captain Shlomi, a reserves officer affected by the cut, said Wednesday that “it is easiest to hurt the reservists because they will continue showing up for duty even if they are continually mistreated.”
Lt. Col. (res.) Y. remarked that “the pay cut would be acceptable if an understanding had been reached, rather than it being dictated from above. Reservists have no problem giving, but they don’t like being taken from.”
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday demanding an immediate discussion of the issue. “The fact that reservists show up for duty warrants giving them a raise — certainly not reducing their pay. I will demand that the government find the necessary funds to pay the reservists, and if such funds are not found, I will take government action to produce these funds. The human resources and the spirit of giving are the foundations of our economy, even when there are budgetary shortages.”
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued a statement saying that “the scope of payment allotted to reserves soldiers, paid by the Tax Authority, has not changed, and still stands at 300 million shekels. However, since there has been a general increase in the number of days served by reservists, especially during Operation Pillar of Defense, the payment brackets have been adjusted. It must be reiterated that no changes have been made to the total allotment paid out to reservists, but the bracket adjustment now requires more days of reserve duty to qualify for the grant in comparison with last year.”
On Thursday, Channel 2 news reported that IDF Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot has announced that he would spearhead an initiative to prevent the reduction in the grants, and is actively trying to find alternative funding sources.
“The aim is to convince the state to pay out the cash and to change the law, so that as early as next year, the law will stipulate permanent criteria for individual grants, rather than a global sum, the way things stand now,” a source involved in the efforts told Channel 2. “The system today is that even when there is an offensive, or a war, the sum is set — that’s a very problematic situation, and the IDF will fight it.”
As the father of two lads that served more than 36 days last year, I am livid.
It is not bad enough not all the young men of Israel share the burden, now the state wants to cheat our long men that risk all to keep Israel safe.