Army touts extra benefits for troops to counteract shrinking motivation to serve in fighting units
Israeli soldiers seen returning after a training drill in the fields near the Israeli border with Gaza on July
The IDF unveiled a plan to increase combat soldiers’ salaries and benefits on Thursday that, beginning later this year, will see their pay rise during their final year of service from a 33 to 40 percent of the minimum wage.
The military described it as a “revolution.”
This slight pay increase, along with some other new measures, are the latest in a series of steps the army has taken to improve service conditions for combat soldiers, as the motivation to serve in those units has dropped in recent years.
“The status of combat soldiers in the IDF is an issue we have been dealing with for many years,” IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said in a statement. “This is a process whose base is that at the tip of the IDF’s spear — the most important thing — is the fighting force that carries out missions and endangers its life.”
The military also announced it would be changing the service conditions for soldiers in its most elite units, increasing the amount of time they have to serve to eight years, but including in that extension a college degree in the field of their choice.
Soldiers in the Sayeret Matkal, Shaldag and Shayetet 13 reconnaissance units, as well as the airborne 669 rescue unit, currently commit to sign on for four or five years of service, several years more than the basic two years and eight months, as those positions require an extended training schedule. By raising the length of their service to eight years, the army would be able to save on manpower — an increasingly precious resource — as the units would require fewer new recruits to fill their ranks.
The pay revolution
Currently, combat soldiers earn NIS 1,600 ($451) per month, while “combat support” soldiers earn NIS 1,176 ($331) and troops in administrative positions earn NIS 810 ($228). The minimum wage in Israel is NIS 5,000 ($1,410) a month.
The plan would see combat soldiers’ pay increase, but only during only their third and final year of service, to NIS 2,000 ($564), beginning in November.
In addition, starting in January 2018, combat soldiers will receive a gift card worth NIS 1,000 ($282) twice in their service that they will be able to use at various restaurants, movie theaters and attractions, or spend on athletic apparel.
Beginning in January, the army will reduce the amount of time it takes for soldiers to receive a document identifying them as a combat soldier from 20 months to 18 months. The document, known in Hebrew as a Teudat Lohem, allows soldiers to travel for free on public transportation in civilian attire, as opposed to other soldiers who must be in uniform, earns them discounts in some locations, and makes them eligible for certain scholarships after they leave the army.
The military also announced that the pins and unit insignia the combat soldiers earn will be larger, as a symbol of their importance.
As part of the benefits rollout, the IDF’s Manpower Directorate also unveiled a new system of ranking for IDF units. In place of the current three-tiered system of administrative, combat support, and combat, the army will instead recognize five separate categories: administrative, combat support, operational combat support, combat and — at the top — “spearhead,” or in Hebrew, hod.
Combat support and operational combat support will effectively be distinguished by where they serve. Operational combat support soldiers will potentially be in contact with the enemy and “endanger their lives,” under the new army definition.
Combat and “spearhead” will, to an extent, be differentiated by their level of exposure to danger.
The army has yet to announce exactly which units will receive each of the designations, but a soldier in an infantry brigade, like Golani or Nahal, or in an armored brigade, like the 188th, will likely be considered a “spearhead” soldier, as during wartime they fight behind enemy lines. Soldiers in the army’s mixed-gender battalions or in the Home Front Command will probably be designated regular combat troops, as they do not typically go beyond Israel’s borders.
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.