IDF Risks Breaking Law to Keep Soldiers' Salaries Secret

Israel Defense Forces refuses to divulge information about its career soldiers' salaries to the Finance Ministry wages director.

The Israel Defense Forces says it won't be giving the Finance Ministry wages director any information about its career soldiers' salaries in 2009 - and is thus violating the law, says wages director Ilan Levin.

The IDF has been trying to keep the salary information private. However, its decision to do so violates an agreement it had with Levin, as well as the budgets law and a law on making salary information more transparent, sponsored by MK Shelly Yachimovich. Yachimovich's law explicitly states that the salaries director will receive information about the wages of security service personnel.

IDF troops operating in Gaza, January 2009
IDF via Getty (Archive)

Two weeks ago, Levin sent the IDF personnel department a letter, noting that it was late in providing this information - in February, it had been asked to provide 2009 salary data by April 15, he pointed out. This was causing a delay in the publication of public sector salary expenditures for the year, he added.

The IDF did indeed send him some salary data, but only partial data, and refused to provide information on the positions earning more than NIS 30,000 a month.

Ilan Levin
Tess Scheflan

It also refused to provide information on salary averages by rank, and the average salary cost of career soldiers divided into deciles.

What's surprising in all this is that the IDF gave the salaries director most of this data in previous years, and it was included in prior reports on public sector salaries.

The IDF had complained that the Shin Bet security service - which revealed salary information for the first time this year - had provided only partial information, and insisted that it be held to the same standards. Levin rejected that demand, adding that the Shin Bet provided only partial data because this is its first year publicizing these figures.

This is not the first conflict between Levin and the IDF. At the beginning of the year, the parties came into conflict over whether the IDF would provide complete information on its salaries so that the salaries director could conduct a periodic audit. The matter was solved once Levin stated that if he didn't receive the data, there would be no discussion of raises for career soldiers. The IDF sent him its initial salary data at the time.

The Defense Ministry comptroller has also had trouble supervising army salaries, and while the comptroller's job is to supervise defense salaries, the IDF gives him only information about average salaries.

The Economic Arrangements Bill had included a clause requiring the IDF to give the Defense Ministry comptroller full salary information, but it was removed due to pressure from Defense Minister Ehud Barak..