State allots NIS 8 m. to improve pay for tough IPS positions

The announcement comes as the IPS faces an unprecedented level of criticism for crises on multiple fronts due to the “Gilboa Prison Break Affair” and the “Prisons Pimping Affair.”

Israel Prison Service guards  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel Prison Service guards
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The government on Sunday announced that it would allot NIS 8 million for the benefit of some 1,700 Israel Prisons Service personnel in select positions both to improve their financial standing and improve morale.

The announcement comes as the IPS faces an unprecedented level of criticism for crises on multiple fronts due to the “Gilboa Prison Break Affair” and the “Prisons Pimping Affair.”

Not only rank and file IPS personnel, but also top officials have come off in official and media probes into these affairs as highly negligent, often abandoning junior prison guards to deal with complex situations with terrorist-prisoners.

Reading between the lines, the new initiative, cosponsored by the IPS and the Finance and Public Security ministries, seems to have been rolled out at a critical juncture. Many current prison service personnel might be considering quitting due to low morale and the IPS might have difficulties finding new recruits.

Where will new funds go?

 Police officers and prison guards at the scene of a prison escape of  six Palestinian prisoners, outside the Gilboa prison, northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (credit: FLASH90) Police officers and prison guards at the scene of a prison escape of six Palestinian prisoners, outside the Gilboa prison, northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)

Specifically, the statement said that IPS personnel in roles that are operational, complex and tend to wear people down will receive the lion’s share of the new funds.

Some of the money will also be allocated to sweeten the deal for attracting new recruits for some of these same, tough positions.

The statement also said that certain social workers and logistics officers would benefit from the new funds.

According to the statement, each designee for funds will receive from NIS 1,500-NIS 8,000 additional pay over a two-year period, or an average of about NIS 60-NIS330 per month.

One-time thing or a recurring payment?

It was unclear if the special funds were a one-time boost to help the IPS maintain its more talented personnel during the current crisis, or if the process might be repeated in the future as a permanent pay raise.

“Male and female prison officials should be appreciated not only by words, but with deeds,” Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said. “Therefore, we announced the granting of a substantial bonus for [many of] them at the level of thousands of shekels [each]. We acted and will continue to act to raise the level of motivation among all of the security forces in the State of Israel.”

Liberman’s statement might have been making reference to a recent deal his ministry made with the Mossad to raise salaries for specific positions, especially in the technology area, to better compete with the private sector.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev said, “An outsider will not understand the reality and challenges that they [IPS personnel] cope with day and night, including their direct meeting up with a population which requires deep emotional strength.”

The new bonus sent a message of encouragement to the IPS in terms of its status as an arm of state security and in terms of wider social justice goals, he said.

IPS chief Katy Perry, who is under fire for both affairs being probed, said the new funds would help maintain the IPS’s quality of personnel at higher levels.

The new initiative did not include any wider reforms relating to the two affairs nor was there any new hint of firings of top officials, which may happen anyway if ordered by an ongoing state inquiry.