Amid Massive Call-up, Many IDF Reservists Report Food, Supply Shortages

Senior army official dismisses 'annoying complaints by a few.'

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Some of the reservists called up for Operation Pillar of Defense who are stationed in the south are reporting shortages of food, coffee and beds on their army bases.

"People aren't getting food," said one of the more than 30,000 Israel Defense Forces reservists called up over the last few days. "They gave us combat rations and didn't let us go into the dining hall on the base. In the end we ordered pizza."

The reservist, who was called up over the weekend and deployed to a military outpost near the Gaza Strip, said "plans are changing every five hours. It's a mess." Several other reservists also reported shortages of food and other supplies.

In 2006 soldiers complained about the army's lack of preparedness during the Second Lebanon War, which the army has said was due to difficulty in getting all the necessary supplies to the forces on the ground. Officers have said the army has learned the lessons of the 2006 war and the 2008 incursion into Gaza, but logistics problems remain, at least for now.

The IDF Spokesman's Office did not respond to a request for comment. A senior IDF official said "the annoying complaints of a few [reservists]" are not worthy of a serious response. He said a high proportion of reservists reported for the "surprise" call-up.

A reservist who serves in a logistics capacity said when there is a mass call-up it takes the army 48 to 72 hours to get its supplies organized.

"Assume that in another day, or two days at most, the soldiers will be begging [for the army] to stop providing them with food," he said.

Meanwhile, while some reservists were subsisting on combat rations or cold food, others didn't even get that.

On Saturday, "they brought us boxes with apples, brownies and cold cuts, and that's all I ate all day," said Yariv, a reservist who was called up to the south on Friday morning. "It looks like a logistical failure, and a lot of people are getting annoyed."

Although the army has said hot food will be on the menu shortly, the reservists have been left to procure sustenance on their own, said Yariv.

Some relatives of reservists say their loved ones aren't even getting more than snacks.

"My husband was called up on Friday night and he's supposed to go into Gaza if a decision is reached [to launch a ground incursion]," said Galit. Between then and at least yesterday afternoon, she said, the only food the reservists were given was peanuts, olives and halva - and a single combat ration they shared among six people.

She also said her husband did not receive sleeping gear his first night on duty.

Another reservist also reported that not all the soldiers in his unit were being fed.

"We have received combat rations since Friday, but not enough," he said. "Not everyone had food. There were a few rations that we shared among ourselves. We hope the situation will improve soon."

'Takes time'

The army did not face the same shortages across the board. Some reservists said they had not seen any major logistical problems, or didn't think the shortages were a big deal.

"There is a shortage of cooked food, but there are plenty of combat rations," said one reservist. "That's how it is. It takes time to start over." Another said: "A ton of reservists came, so the food was finished quickly, but there are still frozen schnitzels and hot meals."

Ro'i, another reservist, said sleeping conditions were crowded in his unit and there were no hot meals until yesterday, but accepted the situation with equanimity.

"This time I can say that, considering the logistical circumstances, everything was just fine," Ro'i said. "Over the weekend we got combat rations and today we started to get hot meals. ... At night it was crowded and it wasn't so easy because there wasn't room for everyone, but in the end everybody made do."

But Gadi, who is also serving in the south, said not only hasn't he been getting hot food, but he and the other reservists on his base have yet to be assigned beds or even mattresses.

"Everyone finds a spot on the floor to sleep on, in a sleeping bag," he said.

And in Gadi's unit, even coffee is starting to look like a luxury.

"The soldiers didn't get breakfast until the afternoon," he said. "There are rumors that there will be some coffee in the coming days. Right now we're living on cold cuts, apples, cucumbers and bread."

Gadi had some advice for the army. "Maybe," he suggested, "the head of Military Intelligence needs to put the effort into finding food instead of looking for terrorists."

Israeli soldiers massing outside Gaza, praying. Credit: Nir Kafri
Israeli soldiers running during a drill simulating a possible ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, at a base south of Hebron, November 17.Credit: Reuters

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