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January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
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Finance Ministry Leaves IDF Empty-Handed

The first casualty was reservist training. Next year they may not even be available.
IDF soldiers patrolling the Syrian border -- many times it is reservists who perform this task. Will they be available next year?

IDF soldiers patrolling the Syrian border -- many times it is reservists who perform this task. Will they be available next year?
Photo Credit: Hamad Almakt / Flash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid was apparently not satisfied with the IDF decision to cancel military reservist training for the entire year.

A bare few hours after IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz made the announcement, the Finance Ministry also rejected a separate funding request for a cash infusion to the defense establishment.

Moreover, according to a source who spoke with Ynet, the ministry plans to slash more of the military budget for fiscal 2015.

Right down to the bone.

The ministry claims the cuts come in response to a Bank of Israel estimate released Monday urging the government to balance the books by raising taxes to the tune of some NIS 18 billion and trimming the budget in each ministry for fiscal 2015.

Critics say the IDF is using the elimination of reservist training as a weapon against the budget cuts.

Traditionally, the defense establishment has been the one area in which cuts kept to a minimum, if any are made at all. But there are those who believe the IDF should trim the number of career soldiers it maintains and take a second look at restructuring pensions and other benefits.

The chief of staff expressed his concern Tuesday in a statement warning, “This is no trick, and no shtick. I am very concerned. The IDF is in the service of the people, not the other way around. We will make every effort to secure the safety of Israeli citizens no matter the circumstances.”

But the question is how that can be carried out if reservists are untrained – and called upon to suddenly use — any new equipment that arrives on Israeli shores.

Moreover, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon pointed out Tuesday, the financial stress on the IDF is “not new – the figures were presented to the Cabinet at the beginning of the year.” The defense budget, he noted, “is not the biggest one” and he too warned that “it is growing smaller.”

Ya’alon said that due to Lapid’s budget cuts, “We will not call up reserves even for operational activity.”

Translation: All military activities will have to be carried out by active forces only – and most are young and relatively inexperienced. A high percentage have never been through a war.

At present, the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s paramilitary force has announced he believes it is time to end the security cooperation agreement with Israel. That Fatah-led force is on the verge of merging with Gaza’s Hamas terror organization.

If Lapid succeeds in slashing the IDF budget, what will happen should the new PA unity government decide to challenge Israel’s existence altogether in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, with aid from Arab nations?

About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.


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