Newly discharged lone soldiers to receive 'coronavirus payment'

Troops will be able to use NIS 4,000 of their military deposit; MK Tzvi Hauser urged government to help troops ineligible for unemployment benefits.

A lone soldier walks past the Western Wall amid the coronavirus pandemic. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A lone soldier walks past the Western Wall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday approved a “coronavirus payment” for newly discharged lone soldiers after lawmakers urged the government to provide financial help.
Under the plan, a grant of up to NIS 4,000 will be granted to lone soldiers who have been discharged from the IDF in the past year and found jobs since their release.
According to reports, newly discharged lone soldiers will have to show two payment slips from an employer.
The plan was formulated under the direction of Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the directors-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the Social Equality Ministry.
In addition, as part of the expansion of the economic plan that will be introduced in the coming days, subject to an amendment of the law, discharged soldiers will be able to withdraw some of the funds for any purpose.
Soldiers are permitted to withdraw their discharge deposit, known as pikadon in Hebrew, after five years for six specific purposes: education, vocational training, driver’s license, starting a business, marriage and buying an apartment. The amount depends on where and how long the soldier served. Subject to any amendments, discharged soldiers will be able to withdraw the funds for any purpose.
Earlier in the day, MK Zvi Hauser (Derech Eretz) urged Defense Minister Naftali Bennett to release funds for recently discharged lone soldiers who are facing financial stress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I urge the defense minister to allow the deposit for lone soldiers to be released immediately and allow them to withdraw the money,” he wrote in a letter, adding that “they need it to survive during the coronavirus crisis.”
While other MKs have urged that all newly discharged soldiers receive their deposit as soon as possible, Hauser said the state should do “everything possible” to help those who have no support, and that they should be able to use the funds for whatever they need it for, including paying rent.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the IDF distributed “rapid grants” of NIS 600 ($170) to some 6,000 lone soldiers in the military and another 3,000 troops who required financial assistance. One-time grants of NIS 500-NIS 1,200 ($140-$330) were distributed to soldiers who are married with children.
On Sunday, some 100 newly discharged lone soldiers demonstrated in front of the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. They called on the Defense Ministry to assist them.
Since many of the soldiers were discharged less than six months before the coronavirus outbreak, they do not qualify for unemployment because they have not accumulated enough time as employed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly approved a “coronavirus grant” late on Sunday of up to  NIS 4,000, according to Channel 12.