For a period of five years, Israeli taxpayers picked up the tab for Israel Defense Forces soldiers who were ticketed for parking violations while driving army-issued cars, the state comptroller's report published Wednesday reveals. The report said the army has not employed any enforcement measures against personnel who were ticketed.
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In 2009, the IDF paid the Tel Aviv municipality NIS 4 million in parking fines and last month the IDF paid the Jerusalem municipality NIS 2.3 million in a compromise settlement over unpaid fines. In January 2012, the army still owed 10 local authorities some NIS 19 million, for offenses committed until to May 2011.
Furthermore, in an April 2010 meeting between the Defense Ministry's director general, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Udi Shani, and the defense establishment’s legal adviser, attorney Ahaz Ben-Ari, Shani said, “one gets the impression that you can violate the law without penalty while in the army." Nevertheless, and despite numerous discussions on the matter, only in December 2011 did the army amend General Staff ordinances to state that parking fines can be deducted from the salaries of standing army personnel.
According to current figures from the Military Advocate General's office, 87% of outstanding debts for the 12 months between March 2012 and 2013 were paid for. The comptroller's report said it views cases in which the army does not enforce the law against personnel who fail to pay fines with the utmost severity. “The IDF should quickly finalize procedures for dealing with parking fines incurred by their personnel," the report said.
The comptroller’s report examined the use of cars by the Defense Ministry and the IDF, and found that vouchers given to reserve battalion and brigade commanders that allowed them to lease vehicles during their tours of duty were transferred to other recipients. In one case, in 2009, a reserve sergeant major forged 30 such vouchers. The army's logistics and technology division failed to better oversee the distribution of these vouchers, whose value is close to NIS 1 million a year.
The report also found that there were no clear guidelines for the use of cars by Defense Ministry employees and claims that the ministry's deputy director general and head of logistics, Bezalel Treiber, did not, as requested, specify the rationale for distributing vehicles. Two assistants to the director general still retain vehicles afforded them while in office, although they left their jobs in October 2008 and December 2011. The report states that “this constitutes a benefit to employees that is not in keeping with good governance."
In response, the IDF said, "We view with great importance the enforcement of traffic violations by cars that are in use by the army, and we are working on different fronts to eradicate this phenomenon and enforce the law. In the last year, there has been a significant decrease in the number of tickets issued to IDF personnel, and there is greater enforcement when it comes to those who violate parking regulations. The army is working with municipalities to formulate uniform procedures for transferring funds collected for them."