Petition Calls on Israel to Upgrade Army Draftees to Minimum Wage

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New IDF recruits look toward the Mediterranean Sea during their basic training, in Tel Aviv, April 13, 2014.Credit: AP

The High Court of Justice has called on the government to rethink its position on the low salary levels paid to soldiers doing compulsory military service. At a hearing on the matter last Thursday, a panel of justices called on the state to develop salary criteria for conscripts.

The hearing was held in response to a petition claiming that the subsistence payments made to draftees are not set by law but are simply based on an order by the Israel Defense Forces General Staff.

The pay that draftees receive has increased since the petition was filed, but at the time of the filing was as low as 352 shekels ($89) per month. Since the beginning of 2015, the basic salary for soldiers not serving in combat-related roles has been increased to 540 shekels per month, while for combat soldiers it is 1,076 shekels. The army has also said the pay will be index-linked as of next year, but will not fall if the cost of living goes down.

The state’s attorney, Dana Bricksman, rejected the idea that army pay must be based on specific criteria, noting it is not meant to supply all of a soldier’s needs but is more like pocket money (as reported in yesterday’s paper).

Justice Esther Hayut said the High Court will give the government 60 days to submit a revised response, but warned, “To the extent that we are not satisfied with the response, we will deliver our ruling without the need for another hearing.”

The petition, filed by Amnon Lorch on behalf of his three children, who all served in the army, claimed that draftees earn stipends of 9% of the minimum wage, and demanded that their pay be brought up to the minimum wage itself, less the value of services that soldiers receive in the army.

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