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.
Israel’s National Labor Court this week ruled that a Bedouin woman, divorced and living in a polygamous family (with her husband and his second wife), is entitled to National Insurance Institute income support benefits in addition to her ex-husband’s income – even though she continues to live near his home with her mother-in-law and their children, Globes reported.
Salami al-Zayadneh, a Bedouin woman, sought to receive income support benefit as she would be entitled to if she lived apart from her husband whom she had divorced. Except that she never left the family compound – which was noted by both the National Insurance Institute and the Regional Labor Court in rejecting her claim, ruling that there was no change in her way of life, and that she continued to maintain a common household with her “ex” husband.
A billboard in Toulouse commemorating the victims of Mohammed Merah’s gun attack on the Ozar Hatorah school in March 2012. Photo: File.
Chaotic scenes broke out on Wednesday at the trial in France of the brother of an Islamist extremist who carried out a spree of terrorist attacks around the southern city of Toulouse in March 2012, including a gun assault on a Jewish school that resulted in the brutal murders of a rabbi along with three young children.
Shouts and jeers erupted from the gallery at the court in Paris during the testimony of Zoulika Aziri — the mother of 35-year-old Abdelkader Merah, who could face a life sentence if he is found guilty of having aided his brother, Mohammed, in carrying out three separate terror attacks between March 11-19, 2012. Mohammed Merah was shot and killed by French police on March 22 of that year at the culmination of a 30-hour siege after he was tracked down.
The evidence is mounting that Iran is not only violating the spirit of the no-nukes deal, but that it is also violating its letter. The prologue to the deal explicitly states: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” This reaffirmation has no sunset provision: it is supposed to be forever.
Yet German officials have concluded that Iran has not given up on its goal to produce nuclear weapons that can be mounted on rockets. According to Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin newspaper:
“Despite the nuclear agreement [reached with world powers in July 2015], Iran has not given up its illegal activities in Germany.
An outbreak of bubonic plague in Madagascar is quickly becoming an epidemic, giving a grim look into how this dreaded disease, once known as the Black Death, killed off one-third of the entire world population.
Madagascar, a poor country in the Indian Ocean, suffers annual outbreaks of the plague with an estimated 400 cases every year. This current outbreak threatens to be much worse than the usual annual outbreak. In the past two months, at least 74 people died from the disease and over 800 more have been infected.
St. Catherine’s Monastery is a popular destination for Christian religious tourism, South Sinai, Egypt. Posted July 14, 2017.
CAIRO — Pope Francis has confirmed that Egypt will be included as an official Roman Catholic Church pilgrimage destination next year, sparking hope that the country’s tourism industry can be revived. The first pilgrims should begin arriving in Egypt in May, according to Tourism Minister Yahya Rashed.
The pope endorsed the designation Oct. 4 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism then announced Oct. 5 that the path of the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) in Egypt more than 2,000 years ago will be part of the Vatican pilgrimage program for 2018.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump initiated an important change in US policy toward Iran.
No, in his speech decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord it struck with his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump didn’t announce a new strategy for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stemming its hegemonic rise in the Middle East, or limiting its ability to sponsor terrorism.
Trump’s move was not operational. It was directional.
One month after Islamic militants bombed two Egyptian churches during Palm Sunday and killed nearly 50 people in April 2017. On Friday, May 26, several SUVs stopped two buses transporting dozens of Christians to visit and pray at the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, in the desert south of Cairo. According to initial reports, about ten Islamic militants, heavily armed and dressed in military fatigues, “demanded that the passengers recite the Muslim profession of faith”—which is tantamount to converting to Islam—and when they refused, the jihadis opened fire on them, killing 29 Christians, at least ten of which were young children (including two girls aged 2 and 4). Mohsen Morkous—an American citizen described as “a simple man” whom “everyone loved”—his two sons, and his two grandsons were among those killed.
Even now, polls suggest that about 40 percent of Americans regard Donald Trump as a suitable president. In essence, this preference has little to do with job performance and must be explained by the nature of the wider society from which this president was drawn.
For the most part, Americans have forsaken every once-residual aspect of an authentic intellectual life. This near-total abandonment of a national “life of the mind” was not fashioned in a cultural vacuum. Rather, it was fostered by an unrelenting barrage of crude and voyeuristic entertainments, most of which now center on sex, sadism, torture, murder and dreary profanity.
On Sunday, a delegation of young Israeli Arabs joined the battle against the apartheid lie and the BDS libels. Such a delegation—on behalf of Reservists on Duty, an organization which is already active on US campuses—is definitely a refreshing change, which sparks not only curious and sympathetic reactions but also threats and a smear campaign. One of the delegation members was forced to leave his home, and another member nearly quit following the pressure.
After weeks of Egyptian-sponsored pre-talks, and a very short “cabinet meeting” in Gaza, “formal reconciliation talks” are now being held between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (P.A. or Fatah) in Cairo under the direct auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
For some Middle East-watchers, the talks are a form of progress. There are presently three functional governments between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and this is about getting rid of one of them. Progress here is that Israel is not the government they’re talking about getting rid of. Yet. This is about whether Hamas or Fatah will lead the Palestinians – whether to peace with Israel or to war with Israel is less important for them right now than simply who between them is top dog.