State may cut ministerial security details

State may cut ministerial security details

Counterterrorism unit is looking to slash spending by limiting protection to only a few government officials; 400 bodyguards may be fired

A security guard patrols the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem during a ministerial visit. (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
A security guard patrols the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem during a ministerial visit. (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Israel’s counterterrorism unit may scale back its ministerial protection operations and terminate the contracts of 400 bodyguards due to financial constraints, Maariv reported on Friday.

According to the paper, the counterterrorism unit and the National Security Council, the agencies responsible for protecting ministers, senior IDF officers, and the prime minister’s family members, are looking to cut spending by offering its services to fewer high ranking officials, removing protection from some of them altogether. A government source told Maariv that the move is backed by intelligence reports and security considerations, including concrete threats on the safety of specific ministers.

The reevaluation of security procedures is due in part to the financial strain that lawsuits filed by former guards have had on the council’s budget, a source involved in the deliberations told Maariv.

Two lawsuits filed by dozens of security guards aim to win tens of millions of shekels in compensation for what they claim were unsatisfactory work conditions and insufficient pay.

The trade union to which the security guards belong said the decision to let them go was meant to avoid ensuring the guards’ rights and recognize them as state employees. The guards employed by the state are currently outsourced from a private company and do not receive the full benefits state employees do.

“This is a scandal,” said Betty Messer-Levy, vice president of the National Labor Federation’s trade union wing.

“Instead of dealing with the offenses the state is involved in regarding the demand for workers’ rights, they decide to simply terminate the employment of hundreds of security guards who gave both nights and days for this country,” she said.

The source assured Maariv that, despite Messer-Levy’s accusations, any changes to providing security to government ministers will take place with the utmost care and in consideration of intelligence evaluations.

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