The IDF is short NIS 3.3 billion, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. Meanwhile, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar criticized the Defense Ministry’s constant “campaigning against government decisions,” saying it brings harm to Israeli citizens.

At a committee meeting on a freeze of IDF purchases from factories in the periphery that manufacture components for the Merkava tank, Naveh said that contract workers – the subject of a Histadrut general strike that ended on Sunday – are not more important than defense employees.

Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said the manufacture of the Merkava must continue and that stopping orders from these factories will bring “technological, social and defense crises.” He called on the government to allow NIS 500 million to be spent on industry, so that the IDF can continue relevant projects and prevent factory workers from being fired.

According to Naveh, the current budget has made it impossible for the IDF to grow stronger, and military exercises will stop from April.

The IDF also froze the purchase of two Iron Dome missile defense batteries and the Arrow 3 missile system.

“One can claim that the defense budget grew as compared to last year, but realistically, this isn’t true,” Naveh said. “It must be said: The IDF is in a crisis.”

Also on Monday, Sa’ar told the Knesset Education Committee that the Defense Ministry runs a “campaign of crying and whining” about budget cuts.

“Every government decision is the basis for a new campaign,” he said. “We can’t live in a state with one ministry that, the minute a decision is made, starts a campaign to change it.”

Sa’ar pointed out that other government offices were “drastically cut” due to defense budget increases in the past, and as a result, education, health and welfare services were adversely affected.

“Security is important to all of us, and we cannot take it lightly, but after receiving additions of billions of shekels, they cannot complain about cuts,” he added.

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