IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz_390.
(photo credit: Ori Shifrin/IDF Spokesman)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has ordered unit commanders to
begin preparing for a near-shutdown of the military in two months due to a
continued standoff with the Treasury over the defense budget.
Gantz and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.- Gen. Yair Naveh convened the top IDF brass
– officers with the rank of colonel and higher – for an annual gathering to
discuss Israel’s strategic challenges for the coming year.
meeting, Gantz told the hundreds of officers who were present they would need to
cut back on training exercises starting April 1. In addition, the IDF was
planning a major cutback in reservist training over the next year.
are cancelling all kinds of exercises, from the division level down to the
battalion level,” a senior IDF officer who was at the meeting said on Tuesday.
“We will not be able to call up reserves, and even when we hold exercises we
will be limited in the amount of ammunition we can use.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided not to cut the defense budget, and
even agreed to a one-time supplement of NIS 3 billion. Nevertheless, the
IDF claims it is short NIS 4b., and will need to dramatically cut back on
training and ammunition in order to fund new development and procurement
In addition to the possible stop in training, the Defense
Ministry has decided to suspend all future orders of Merkava tanks and Namer
armored personnel carriers (APC).
“There are a number of strategic
projects that will be harmed due to the lack of funds,” a defense official said
The Namer is based on the Merkava MK4 and is claimed to have a
high level of reinforced steel protection. The decision to develop the new APC was made after the Second
Lebanon War in 2006, during which IDF armor suffered heavy losses to Hezbollah
Other projects that could be affected are the Iron
Dome antirocket defense system and further development of David’s Sling and
Arrow-3, two longer-ranged missile defense systems.
The officials said
Gantz and Defense Ministry director-general Udi Shani were scheduled to meet
with Netanyahu in the coming weeks in an effort to obtain additional funding
that would enable the military to continue implementing its multi-year
Called Halamish, the plan is aimed at upgrading the
IDF’s ground forces, improving its strategic capabilities with the procurement
of additional F-35 stealth fighter jets, and boosting Israel’s cyber