Dozens of employees at the Vehicle Industries Ltd. Factory in Nazrat Ilit are likely to lose their jobs next week, after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has decided that the Defense Ministry purchase Britain-made jeeps, instead of jeeps manufactured by the Israeli factory, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed on Monday.
The Sufa-2 model jeep was developed at the factory in recent years with an investment of USD 2 million, and after the IDF committed to
In a visit to the factory two years ago, Mofaz promised that the security establishment will channel orders worth 70,000 work-hours to the factory, but in reality only less than a third of that number were delivered.
In addition, the Defense Ministry recently informed the factory's management it has decided to purchase 100 Defender jeeps manufactured by U.K.- based company Land Rover.
In order to use American aid funds for the acquisition, the vehicles will be bought through an American company, which will buy them in the U.K. and armor them abroad.
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the IDF is expected to pay USD 130,000 for each of the cars, while the price of a Sufa jeep stands at USD 84,000. The paper has also revealed that since the Israeli jeep is manufactured with U.S.-made parts, 70 percent of its price can be funded by the American aid funds.
The factory's employees are set to demonstrate opposite the Defense Ministry on Monday, and demand that the jeep deal be called off and transferred to Israel.
The workers are especially furious over Mofaz's recent statements regarding his "social sensibilities," which, they claim, stand in contrast to the move that will render more Israelis jobless.
The factory's management is currently in negotiations with the ministry, but if no settlement is reached, it will be forced to fire dozens of workers next week.
Sources at the Defense Ministry said in response that the Sufa-2 jeep is currently undergoing tests that are scheduled to end in nine months, and that the order of 100 Land Rover jeeps was carried out to meet operative needs.
"Once the testing of the Sufa-2 is completed, the subject of the acquisition will be looked into in accordance with budget considerations and the army's demands," a source at the ministry explained.
Udi Etzion contributed to the report