IDF Manpower Director Chief Elazar Stern said Wednesday during a radio interview with Army Radio that he has not visited bereaved families in Tel Aviv recently, in what was seen as implied criticism over the rate of Tel Aviv residents who perform combat duty.
Stern made the remarks in a conversation with radio host Razi Barkai while explaining it was time to address the question of combat service burden across the country. However, the IDF official refused to provide data regarding the geographical spread among combat troops.
Below is an excerpt from Wednesday's Army Radio interview:
Stern: I see which homes I visit and with all the pain and pride I also look at the homes I don't go to…there's no bereavement in those homes. There's no bereavement there and there won't be bereavement there.
Barkai: Are you talking about a geographical or demographic division?
Stern: Also. But before we go into the problem with this matter, perhaps we should look at the pride in this division and our quickness to judge certain things.
Barkai: What did you tell me now? That you visit (bereaved families) in settlements and religious communities?
Stern: …I go to kibbutzim much more
Barkai: You don't go to Tel Aviv, is that what you're telling me?
Following the conversation, Barkai spoke with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who was furious over Stern's statements.
"Residents of Tel Aviv constitute less than five percent of the State of Israel's population," he said. "Don't measure the rates of enlistment (to combat units) by the casualty figures."