Photo Credit: Flash 90
An Israeli security guard at his post at the Bat Ain settlement in Gush Etzion

Security coordinators (“Ravshatz”) throughout pre-67 Israel are planning to launch a “graduated strike” starting Monday.

The security coordinators say they are striking over poor pay and working conditions. It comes after months of numerous fruitless attempts to negotiate with the Ministry of Defense, according to sources who spoke with JewishPress.com on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

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Security coordinators in the Ephraim region of Samaria said they also plan to join the strike in solidarity with their peers in the pre-1967 communities, which include the communities located along the Gaza border.

Among those who plan to join the walkout in solidarity with their peers are security coordinators for communities in the Ephraim region in Samaria, which includes those securing the cities and town of Ariel, Karnei Shomron, Kedumim, Hashmonaim, Kiryat Sefer-Modi’im Illit, Talmon/Dolev, Peduel/Beit Aryeh, and more.

Sources told JewishPress.com the job action would be carried out in phases, beginning on January 13 (Monday), starting by stopping cooperation with the IDF. Three days later, on January 16, the security coordinators say they will extend the strike to affect the communities themselves. On January 21, the striking security coordinators plan to return their guns and vehicles to the IDF, and on January 26 they say they will carry out a “full general strike.”

The following letter was sent to the IDF, cities, towns and villages to be affected by the strike:

Dear commanders and soldiers,

In the Ephraim district, we are an integral part of the security center network across the country. We are joining the protest, and beginning tomorrow, January 13 2020, to bring into legal compliance the regulation of our employment to improve working conditions and insurance coverage that at present does not exist even though we risk our lives daily.

We have nothing against the military and the beloved people serving the country. We are an integral part of the security and rescue forces, and we spend many days in defense of Samaria and the state.

Our fight is against defense ministry bureaucrats who are depriving us of what we legally deserve. Please accept this legitimate and justifiable protest. The shutdown/strike will be for all intents and purposes from the administrative and operational sides alike.

Please see to your preparations for situations in which we will not be responding to an event and how you will take full command of the communities, including briefings, contact with the Ganesh Control, maintaining contact with security guards’ positions and being able to immediately jump to events in communities localities and on the roads.

Good luck to us all and good week.

The security coordinators are civilian employees of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, under the jurisdiction of the IDF, and are paid through the local municipalities.

Last autumn, Home Front Command and the Ministry of Defense announced their intention to make organizational changes and cut the operating budget of some 430 security coordinators throughout the country.

Security coordinators in Gaza embarked on a day-long strike last November and attended an national emergency meeting in Modi’in devoted to the problem. Nir Shurman, head of the security coordinators’ committee for communities along the Gaza border, explained at that time that the main part of the struggle was the transfer of security responsibility from the army to civilians — to community committees and community leaders — and an increase in the various bodies responsible for the security coordinators, in addition to the disproportionate blanket cut.

“We are embarking on a struggle without compromise, we will not abandon our communities and our security,” Shurman said at that time, acknowledging that the intended cuts included an average of 25 percent in car maintenance costs in addition to lowering standards in general.

In December 2019, at least four Regional Council districts did not receive a budget from the Ministry of Defense, forcing them to dismiss dozens of security coordinators of local authorities. In response, the ministry said, “Four councils have not yet signed the new agreement regulating the cooperation between the parties. Beyond the letter of the law, the ministry has given them advances for the coming month.”

So now that month is coming to a close, and salaries are fading out. But it is not just those four councils where the problem lies. The security coordinators say they have repeatedly identified issues around working conditions, salaries and insurance that need to be addressed. So far that has not happened, and they say they feel they have no other option but to bring the matter to the public’s attention in order to get it resolved.

“They are not abandoning their communities… they are informing the Ministry and IDF that they [the IDF] will need to provide the security directly and not through the security coordinators,” a source explained. “They are demanding better conditions, and better insurance. . . It will be very cumbersome for the IDF to take over all those security details.”

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