Reserve Soldiers to IDF Chief: We Are Forced to Fund Our Own Reserve Duty

Soldiers also complain to Gantz and to President Peres of shortage in weaponry; Peres: it is unacceptable that officers lose their jobs because of reserve duty.

Reserve officers openly criticized the Israeli government Tuesday, as President Shimon Peres and IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz visited Tze'elim base for reserve duty appreciation week.

In a Q & A session with Peres and Gantz, the soldiers complained of having to pay for their reserve duty out of their own pockets, and of a shortage of weaponry during training.

Peres and Gantz at IDF base - GPO - May 24, 2011
GPO / Moshe Milner

"We pay for our reserve duty with taxes and with our time, but also with expenses such as transportation in private cars, phone bills and more, for which we are not reimbursed," said one of the reserve soldiers in the battalion. "It costs the citizen in uniform a lot of money. In fact, we pay for the privilege of reserve duty."

He added angrily that the drill performed in the president's presence, which included an unmanned drone and other equipment, was "a show for the media."

Gantz said he would like to provide more equipment to the reserve units but said it would come at the expense of the regular IDF service units. "It is important that we keep hearing this kind of criticism, but an army of this scale needs to balance its resources," he said.

Peres agreed with the reserve soldiers but reiterated Gantz' position that the government lacks the means to supply them with more equipment.

"You are right, but even when you are right there aren't always enough means," Peres said. "It is unacceptable that reserve soldiers come home and lose their jobs because of your service. Israel has changed its priorities in the past few years to accommodate reserve soldiers, and we must keep pushing in that direction."