Haredi soldiers serving in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion received a NIS 5,000 (roughly $1,300) grant from an outside donor after getting married, Ynet learned on Tuesday. The Central Command is investigating the case.
Each soldier in the battalion who got married during his army service received a personal check. "The soldiers deserve any assistance but this can eventually cause discrimination between the troops," an IDF source said. "What should a combatant in the same brigade not get the same sum just because they serve in another battalion?"
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Apart from this "wedding bonus" haredi troops are also entitled to financial aid amounting to NIS 3,200-4,000 a month. A married soldier receives other benefits from the IDF including help in rent and apartment maintenance, a 10-day marriage leave and a one-time grant of a few hundred shekels.
Netzah Yeduda Battalion. Excessive aid? (Photo: Ido Erez)
Several soldiers at the Netzah Yehuda Battalion had received the bonus which was described as a "bridegroom's grant" at the battalion's website. A 2010 report stated that "six Nahal Haredi bridegrooms who were recently married received a check for thousands of shekels for their wedding costs and setting up a home from one of the donors."
The IDF is very strict in enforcing donation protocol which forbids a soldier from directly receiving funds from a donor. Any outside aid must be filtered through AWIS (Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers) and LIBI (The Fund for Strengthening Israel's Defense) and later through the IDF's Manpower Directorate.
The protocol aims to prevent a situation where one unit gets excessive donations leaving other units "deprived." The army was recently forced to reject some donations made to units that had already received extensive aid.
The Netzah Yeduda Battalion is Kfir Brigade's largest infantry battalion and one of the largest in the IDF. Some 40% of its soldiers are regarded as welfare dependent and 30% are married. The battalion is scheduled to resume activity near Jenin after a training period.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "Army orders prohibit donations given directly to the unit or the soldiers and not through AWIS or LIBI. The claims will be examined by the relevant parties in the IDF."
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