“I will not approve transfers to the Defense Ministry until there are assurances that the money budgeted to reservists will not be canceled. These soldiers do not need to subsidize the operations in which they participate,” Slomiansky said.
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On Wednesday, it was reported that the call-up of reservists during November’s operation Pillar of Defense reached almost 60,000 soldiers and cut into the budget for reserve bonuses, as it was necessary to distribute a bonus to more soldiers. This led to reservists voicing their criticism on social networks and attacking the government for not updating the relevant budgets.
“Reservists will get their bonus ‘by hook or by crook,’ Bennett said to Slomiansky. “It is not possible that because of the call-up to war, the reservists will get less.” Bennet promised, “We will freeze the budget transfers to the Defense Ministry until the issue is taken care of.”
“People cut off from home, their families, their work, tests and studies, their businesses fail, and instead of showing its gratitude the state is playing games with their bonuses. That is taking from the ones who need it most, and we will not cooperate,” Bennett emphasized.
Outraged by the situation, Bennett requested an urgent meeting on the subject. He sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, “I will not agree that they harm the reservists who fought in Pillar of Defense. These soldiers showed up to defend our home and it's up to us to give them something back, and definitely not to make it worse. I demand of the government to find the budget for this, and if not I will take action myself to find it.”
He added, “Every day, especially during these days when there is a need to keep the spirit of volunteerism among the Israeli populace, I assume that we are all in agreement that there is a need to protect the rights of our reserve soldiers.”
Following up on Bennett’s demand, the coordinator for the coalition within the Finance Committee, MK Gila Gamliel (Likud-Beiteinu) said, “I will not cooperate with the harming of reserve soldiers. We will not pass on funds from the committee to the Defense Ministry until the financing for the bonuses is found.”
Every year at the start of May, a bonus is issued to pay reserve service salaries for the previous year. The amount is decided based on a bracket defined in the New Reserve Law – of between 10 to 37 days, and between NIS 1,200-5,000.
The yearly budget is set at approximately NIS 300-million, and it has not changed since the operation (in November). Thus bonuses were decreased so that they would ‘be enough’ to cover more reservists.
The IDF Spokesperson said, “The amount of compensation has not changed, based on a decision by the government. There have been no changes in the total compensation that will be paid to reservists, but the updating of the brackets will require that reservists serve more days in comparison to years past, in order to receive the bonus.”
Military sources added that “if it is decided to increase the budget, the reservists will receive the bonus without serving additional days.”
Zvi Lavi contributed to this report
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