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IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Sunday that reserve soldiers had demonstrated a high level of professionalism during the Second Lebanon War last year, and urged the Knesset to translate this into legislation that would repay the reservists for their service to society.
Speaking at an awards ceremony for outstanding soldiers in honor of IDF Reserves Appreciation Day, Ashkenazi said that the reserve soldiers deserved remuneration for leaving their families and friends to serve their country.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz praised the IDF at the ceremony, noting that the army had not waited for the Winograd report to come out before implementing the lessons of the war in Lebanon.
Acting president Dalia Itzik, meanwhile, said that the IDF could not fix the mistakes revealed during the war without the staunch support of the cabinet, the Knesset and the media.
Earlier, two IDF reservist movements called for a cancellation of Sunday's festivities, claiming that there was no reason to commemorate the day - which is a mark of respect for IDF reservists - at a time when the state was continuing to abandon the reservists and was not concerned with rewarding them properly for their services.
The two groups declared that the state was ignoring the problems and making do with national days of recognition and "false pats on the back" instead of promoting legislation that would guarantee the security and welfare of reservists and their families.
Meanwhile, even as the country geared up to celebrate the annual appreciation day for the fourth time, soldiers from a brigade deployed in the Mevo Dotan area complained that they were lacking food, ammunition and training, Israel Radio reported Sunday morning.
In a letter to commanding officers, the soldiers said that after only two days of training, they had been given control of the area without any coordinated orders, basic supplies, or even maps.
The soldiers added that they had had to use their own money to buy the missing food and necessities.
The IDF said in response that many reserve brigades had been operating in the area recently, and no complaints of supply shortages had been received. An investigation into the matter showed that there was no shortage in food supplies, the army said.
The national appreciation day, which was first set up in 2004, includes an awards ceremony at which IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi is expected to give certificates to outstanding reservists, as well as a ceremony at Beit Hanassi.