DM Benny Gantz: IDF is under fire from home

Gantz called the attempts to thwart the new draft law are a "security hazard."

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at the Makor Rishon conference (photo credit: Defense Ministry/Nicole Laskvi)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at the Makor Rishon conference
(photo credit: Defense Ministry/Nicole Laskvi)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed outrage at politicians and public figures who attacked the IDF and the new Draft Law, saying that the IDF is "under fire from home," at the conference of the Israeli newspaper "Makor Rishon" on Monday.

"Unfortunately, the IDF — With its soldiers, career soldiers and dwindling reservists — Is under fire from home. It suffers attacks from irresponsible public figures, some of them post-Zionists who are willing to weaken us all for 'likes,'" said Gantz.

"There are attempts to thwart the new service outline, in which all parts of Israeli society will be integrated. This is a security hazard. The fact that half of each grade does not enlist - is unfair and dangerous," added Gantz at the Makor Rishon conference. "Even the populist attitude towards career soldiers became full of lies to the point of blood libels. Issues that the IDF is opening for the first time in years among soldiers, such as improving transportation, food and the fight against sexual harassment, are becoming headline contests for Knesset members."

Gantz blamed the current situation on leaders he said were "acting with understanding towards those who want to harm and dismantle the IDF."

The defense minister called on the government, the coalition and even the opposition, to put security above political considerations and to back him as he is the minister who is responsible for the matter. "The IDF must not be turned into a political punching bag," stressed the defense minister. "Criticism — yes. Tongue lashing — no."

 HAREDIM PROTEST at the city’s Bar Ilan intersection, following the arrest of a haredi draft-dodger. The Peleg faction frequently spearheads such protests; Illustrative.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) HAREDIM PROTEST at the city’s Bar Ilan intersection, following the arrest of a haredi draft-dodger. The Peleg faction frequently spearheads such protests; Illustrative. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Gantz stated that he intends to get the new draft law passed, to back up soldiers and disabled veterans, to bring more benefits for reservists and to ensure that soldiers and officers are treated correctly by society.

"This is a value struggle for security, and I intend to change the dismal situation we have reached, which harms IDF soldiers, career soldiers and reservists. And most of all, it ultimately harms the State of Israel and its security," said Gantz.

The proposed draft law includes plans to recruit haredim into the military and lower the age of exemption to 21 for those who prefer to remain learning in a yeshiva. The lowering of the age will be in effect for two years.

After 24 months, the exemption age will rise to 22. A year later, it will increase to 23.

Even after the age rises, haredim will be able to complete their service at the age of 21 on condition they join the workforce through a track that provides professional training.

The bill sets out annual targets for the number of haredi men to be enlisted per year beginning in 2021. It very slowly increases rates of enlistment for the annual cohort of haredi men turning 18.

Should enlistment targets not be met, the bill provides for a reduction in the state budget for yeshivas, money that is distributed to recognized yeshivas for the purposes of paying students a monthly stipend.