In the wake of harsh criticism by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, the Defense Ministry has decided to drastically cut back the budget it had intended to allocate for its annual Independence Day celebration.Guests at next week’s party, which is held every year at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv and personally hosted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, will be served falafel, humous, pita bread and soft drinks instead of a catered meal like last year.In March, Lindenstrauss issued a report in which he slammed Barak and claimed that the number of personal invitations the defense minister sent out last year was more than three times higher than six years earlier. At the same time, the number of invitations issued to the IDF General Staff and battalion commanders in the regular and reserve forces fell by more than 20 percent.Lindenstrauss had decided to investigate the annual reception following critical reports from last year’s event. According to his conclusions, “the process involved in determining the list of guests was fundamentally faulty. It lacked a guiding hand and centralized control. Furthermore, in the past three years, there has been a highly significant increase in the number of invitations sent to guests of the defense minister as opposed to the number sent to other categories of guests. This way of running things, which is not in accordance with the rules of proper administration, is a substantial fault, especially considering that we are talking about a large number of guests whose importance and relevance to the event is unclear.”Defense officials said Tuesday that in contrast to previous years, onlymilitary reporters would be invited to this year’s party. Instead ofpoliticians, Barak has decided to invite reserve officers who hold therank of major and above.In addition, the Defense Ministry will put a number of militaryplatforms on display, including the new Namer armored personnelcarrier, the Merkava tank, which is celebrating 40 years, and the IronDome short-range rocket defense system.