Israel's New Defense Minister Flies to Daughter's Wedding in IDF Helicopter on Government's Tab

Defense officials say Moshe Ya'alon was tied up in urgent security consultations and flight prevented him from running late to wedding.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon flew to his daughter's wedding at Kibbutz Grofit near Eilat on Thursday of last week in an Israel Defense Forces helicopter. Wedding guests were surprised to see the new defense minister touch down in an army aircraft at an event that was considered a private family affair.

Military sources explained that Ya'alon, who had become defense minister just three days before, had been busy with operational consultations and urgent security assessments with other defense officials on the day of the wedding.

Due to the wedding, Ya'alon also missed a reception for visiting U.S. President Barack Obama.

The helicopter that took the minister to the wedding landed at Grofit and then immediately headed back north, the Defense Ministry said. Since the aircraft was flown by reserve soldiers as part of their quota of training hours, the flight cost the army about only about NIS 6,000, defense officials added, but other sources suggested that the actual cost would have been tens of thousands of shekels.

Ya'alon, who is a member of Kibbutz Grofit but in recent years has been living with his family in Tel Aviv, remained at the kibbutz over the weekend and returned to the center of the country by car.

The defense establishment has very strict rules governing the use of IDF aircraft for personal needs. Ya'alon's office added in response: "Since [Ya'alon] was busy into the afternoon hours with urgent operational consultations and [security] assessments at his office in Tel Aviv, instead of spending the wedding day with his family, to avoid having him be late for his daughter's wedding, it was decided that for lack of an alternative, the defense minister would get to the event by helicopter."

Eliyahu Hershkowitz
Tal Nissim