Top Brass Says Knesset Committee’s Work May Lead to Manpower Shortage

Commenting on the proposed service packages for Israeli men, women and religious men, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says 'you can’t pick and choose and then expect nothing to change.’

A Knesset committee has foolishly recommended reducing the length of men’s military service without making up for the shortfall, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and other senior officers said Sunday.

Earlier this month, the Shaked Committee voted to cut the length of service to 32 months from 36 and let hesder yeshiva soldiers who mix service with religious studies keep serving for around half that period.

Meanwhile, starting in 2017, ultra-Orthodox men will be eligible for the draft until age 24, and will be able to delay their induction on a yearly basis until that age. Draft dodging by the ultra-Orthodox will not be prosecuted until 2017.

“Everyone voted on his own clause and then went out to market it,” a senior officer said.

According to Gantz, “If you’ve read the law as I did, we’re saying what should be. The IDF presented the requirements. You can’t pick and choose and then expect nothing to change.”

Sources in the Israel Defense Forces said that for men’s service to be reduced, a number of requirements had to be fulfilled. This included increasing women’s service by four months and drafting tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men.

As things stand now, the IDF could suffer a shortfall of nearly 10,000 soldiers, the sources said.

“I’m very worried,” the senior officer added. “We said that everyone should serve, we presented a comprehensive package under which if they wanted to shorten service, it would have to be longer for others.”

Gantz said the IDF had shown the politicians and the Shaked Committee “that service is for everyone …. We presented our professional truth clearly. The politicians have their discussions; we don’t have a vote on this committee.”

IDF Spokesman