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.
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The last time the Israeli flag flew on the Temple Mount was for a very brief time after the IDF conquered the site in the 1967 Six Day War, but on Wednesday, a group of Chinese Christian tourists posed with a flag on the steps leading up to the Dome of the Rock.
On Wednesday, Stand With Us, a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles posted the photo on their Facebook page, saying:
Delegation of UN ambassadors joining the 30th ‘March of the Living’ Pilgrimage at the Auschwitz-Buchenau concentration camp. (Courtesy: American Zionist Movement)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and US President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office, March 5, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)
While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly backed the US-led airstrikes on Syria in the wake of its use of chemical weapons, Israeli security chiefs made clear on Saturday night that Israel fears the Trump Administration will now consider that its work in Syria is done, and leave Israel alone to face the dangers posed by Iran’s growing military presence in Syria.
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The remains of the Syrian regime’s Scientific Research Centre in Damascus following coalition airstrikes, April 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki.
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It’s safe to say that every year since the Holocaust ended, one could safely say Holocaust commemoration and education has never been more important. That’s especially in the past generation as survivors, whose first hand testimony to the unspeakable horrors they suffered, during which six million Jews were murdered, age and die.
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The public record is clear: Terrorist group Hamas started this fight. The “March of Return,” deceptively billed as a “peaceful and nonviolent” protest along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, turned violent from day one, as armed terrorists mingled with women and children, and several militants tried to breach the border of the sovereign nation of Israel.
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