Religious soldier and hareidi religious men a
Religious soldier and hareidi religious men a Israel news photo: Flash 90

A young hareidi religious immigrant made a commitment to the IDF, and has since experienced one unpleasant surprise after another, sometimes not even receiving his minimal pay at all.

“M” immigrated from an English-speaking country several years ago, and enlisted to the IDF under the army’s special program for hareidi-religious men, believing it important to uphold the values of defending the Land.

He didn’t expect the constant battles he encountered, however.

“It wasn’t that bad, at first,” he told Arutz Sheva on Thursday, “but sometimes we wouldn’t be allowed to pray at the times we were promised. Or we wouldn’t be let off on time for family things, as the agreement mandated.”

But not receiving his pay for months at a time -- and it's just barely NIS 4,000 per month -- was worse. “I wasn’t clear about why that was, and it took forever to straighten it out due to language difficulties, and other things.”  The “other things” were the connection with “M”’s wife, who alleged the army had somehow decided his pay could be reduced because she began receiving aliyah benefits after their marriage while he was in service.

“It made no sense, but I didn’t want to question it because I didn’t know what I had the right to question, and what I could legally do,” he said.

Most recently, “M”’s pay was cut by NIS 1,000 last month. He doesn’t know whether that was part of the general budget-cutting measure that is going to effect across the board, or if it is just more of the same treatment he’s been getting all along.

The IDF plans to discharge between 3,000 to 5,000 career soldiers in what was supposed to be a five year budget-cutting plan that includes the elimination of ships, tanks and aircraft.

In fact, the entire Israel Defense Forces structure is about to undergo an overhaul due to the cutback in the defense budget for fiscal 2013 and 2014, slashed by NIS 3 billion in 2014, and by NIS 1.5 billion this year.

Some of the revisions had been on the planning board for years, but were allegedly put off due to “social protests and elections.” 

Those included closing a tank brigade and an air force squadron. But there are to be other changes as well. 

The IDF canceled all reserve operational duty for the remainder of the year, and there will be a significant reduction in reserve training. Only infantry and armored corps will receive advanced training this year.

The IDF is reconfiguring the way it operates in tandem with a new style of fighting in the Middle East, with the focus less on conventional warfare.

Divisions deployed along the borders, particularly to the north and in the south, will be beefed up, especially a new unit to be established in the Golan Heights. In addition, the IDF will strengthen reserve divisions in the north and south that are called up for emergencies.

A savings of approximately NIS 7 billion is expected to result, but some of that will be reinvested to high priority projects. These include developing the new cyber warfare unit, improving intelligence and investing in anti-missile defense such as the Iron Dome, Magic Wand and Arrow 3 systems.