Israel Reducing Number of Non-military Soldiers

Shorter service, more Haredim in civic service, mean fewer soldiers will serve in civilian positions in prisons, Defense Ministry or the Mossad

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces will reduce the number of soldiers posted outside the army, in government offices and other security-related bodies.

As part of the IDF’s planned personnel restructuring following the recruitment of Haredim and the shortening of military service for men by four months, the army will reduce the number of soldiers posted to non-military units. Under the plan, as early as the next recruitment season fewer soldiers will be posted to these positions. The reduction includes a cut of 259 posts at the Israel Prison Service, 127 posts at the Ministry of Defense and 61 posts at the Mossad.

At a meeting Wednesday of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subcommittee for personnel, the IDF presented the planned cut in the non-army units. Subcommittee chairman MK Omer Bar-Lev said he would try to advance a decision in the Plesner Committee (charged with formulating recommendations regarding the recruitment of Haredim) to transfer all the new posts to civic National Service duty.

A State Comptroller’s report from the early 2000s criticized the Defense Ministry and the IDF on this issue, saying no joint policy had been formulated regarding the employment of female soldiers in the ministry's various units. In 2001, for example, 2,670 soldiers were posted to “recognized service” positions (referring to military units in the Ministry of Defense and its affiliated units, or military units that are part of a government office or a public organization supervised by the government). Today that number has reached about 5,000 soldiers, both male and female.

Last year, the Security Service law was prolonged, allowing, under a temporary provision, to post soldiers to serve in the Israel Prison Service and the Israel Police until the end of 2015. At the time the temporary provision was prolonged, MKs charged that this constitutes exploitation of cheap labor – soldiers – employed instead of wardens or policemen whose salaries are much higher than those paid to soldiers in regular service.

According to the IDF plan, since men conscripted in 2015 will already serve four months less – 32 rather than 36 – the IDF must find additional personnel sources, in other words, more soldiers to serve in its ranks. Among other things, the IDF seeks to prolong women’s service by four months so they serve 28 months. In addition, the service of students at Hesder yeshivas (combining Talmudic studies with service in the IDF) is to be prolonged, and civilian tasks are to be reduced. This recommendation previously appeared in the Ben-Bassat Committee report, which stated that positions to which thousands of soldiers are posted should be cancelled.

Instances of IDF soldiers stealing munitions to sell to criminals are few, but worrying.Credit: Gil Eliahu

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