The cabinet on Sunday approved a 50-percent pay raise for all Israel Defense Forces soldiers doing mandatory service, from January 1, 2016. The increase was recommended by a panel of defense, finance and justice ministry officials.
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As a result of the decision, the monthly salary of combat soldiers is due to rise to 1,616 shekels ($423) from 1,077 shekels, while troops in combat-support positions will receive 1,176 shekels a month instead of 784 shekels. Soldiers in rear units will see their monthly salaries rise to 810 shekels from 540 shekels.
The pay hike goes into effect with January’s salary, which is automatically deposited into each soldier’s bank account on February 1.
The estimated cost of the measure is $600 million a year. In explaining its recommendations, the panel said the pay hike will improve the economic situation of conscripts.
For his part, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon objected to providing pay raises to conscripts as a matter of principle, saying that any additional monies should go to a fund to be paid to soldiers upon completion of their military service, so as to give them something to fall back on as they reenter civilian life.
In the course of their work, members of the panel met with Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat, who headed the committee for examining shortening compulsory military service in 2006; MK Elazar Stern (former head of the IDF Personnel Directorate); the current head of the Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky; and attorney Amnon Lorch, who has petitioned the High Court of Justice regarding the issue of soldiers’ wages.
In early 2015, soldiers’ salaries rose by 25 percent, and it was determined that their wages would be linked to the cost-of-living index and updated once a year; if there is a negative index, the salaries would not be reduced.
That increase was based on an IDF study according to which the average monthly expenses for a regular soldier in compulsory service were 1,100 shekels less than the monthly salary for combat soldiers, even after the 25-percent wage increase.