Report: Farewell Party for Outgoing IDF Chief Cost Over $150,000

$56,000 was spent on a specially commissioned film for Benny Gantz, while the Tel Aviv venue for the 1,000 or so guests cost a further $29,000.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (second from right) at the party marking his departure from the army, February 15, 2015.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The farewell party for former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz last February cost almost 600,000 shekels ($157,000), Channel 2 television reported on Thursday night.

The data was released in response to a request from the Movement for Freedom of Information. Yet the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit had previously refused to give the figure to journalists, despite a request.

According to Channel 2’s report, it cost about 110,000 shekels to rent the Drive-in Arena in Tel Aviv, while logistical equipment for the event cost some 53,000 shekels.

About 1,000 guests were invited, including senior defense officials, public figures, Gantz’s relatives, and journalists. Food was provided by the Idit catering firm, which generally caters IDF events. The total cost of the food came to about 64,000 shekels.

The party featured a film, produced specially for the event, at an estimated cost of 215,000 shekels; an outside director was hired to make it. It also included a sing-along. Lighting and sound systems, plus the hiring of a large screen, added another 140,000 shekels.

The total cost came to almost 600,000 shekels – about 200,000 shekels more than the much-criticized farewell party thrown by Israel Police for outgoing Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino in June.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit responded, “Following staff work conducted over the last few months, new and stricter orders were issued that restrict holding events in the IDF. These orders limit the events and significantly cut the budget for them. They also significantly restrict appearances by civilian artists and significantly curtail the employment of outside companies, with the aim being to rely on military resources. In recent months, the Manpower Directorate has strictly enforced compliance with the orders on these issues.”