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IDF orders soldiers to return holiday gift cards

Despite army's refusal to be given specified donations, Bayit Ham Association distributes gift cards to IDF soldiers. Army orders soldiers to return cards, citing 'unacceptable prioritizing'

Two weeks after Ynet revealed that the IDF delayed external donations to soldiers, a solution to the issue has yet to be found. An attempt to indirectly provide coupons was also blocked by the army, which claimed that the manner in which the donation was given undermined the equality between soldiers in the different units.

 

The NIS 420,000 ($116,000) donation was collected by the Bayit Ham Association. After the organization realized that the IDF refused to be given the donation, it decided to provide the donation in the form of retail chains gift cards, but were also refused.

 

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The reason behind the IDF's refusal to receive the donation stemmed from a military policy according to which the recipients of donations cannot be specified in advance, so as to prevent favoritism of certain IDF units. 

 

The donation at hand was specifically given to soldiers of the Nachson Battalion.

 

At a result, soldiers who were already given the gift cards had to return them to the organization, as their superiors commanded them to.

 

Shifra Shahar, CEO of the association, claimed that in the past, such donation was collected from businessmen and transferred to the IDF through the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS) or the Libi Fund.

 

Shifra Shahar with the donations (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Shifra Shahar with the donations (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
 

According to her, this time she contacted the relevant sources in order to repeat the same procedure, but was denied. In her view, the army's refusal resulted from the fact that the magnetic gift vouchers were charged with too high a price, NIS 500-1000 ($140-280).

 

"We have managed to give about NIS 100,000 ($28,000) so far through the soldiers' family members that collected the money directly from us, or after we have sent the donation by registered mail or with volunteers to the soldiers' homes," Shahar revealed.

 

"It is time that the army put this issue behind and take the donations. The units were recommended by the army. It had never happened in the past four years that we were not approved a donation."

 

IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "In Nachson Battalion, like in all of the IDF, the soldiers eligible for aid, approved by the chief of Personnel Directorate ahead of the High Holidays, were given financial aid and food packages. In addition, the battalion commander was given food vouchers that were distributed to the relevant soldiers and requests for financial aid were approved, just like in any other holiday.

 

"The IDF has a uniform and responsible policy regarding its soldiers and thus any attempt to condition an external donation with intervening in equality and prioritizing is unacceptable. IDF will continue to perform all that is necessary for the wellbeing of the soldiers," the statement noted.

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 09.16.13, 22:09
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