After raising conscript soldiers’ salaries, the government on Monday announced that those in the civilian alternative to military service will also receive a 50 percent pay increase.
In a joint statement announcing the move, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said that starting in January, the monthly payment for the estimated 18,000 national service volunteers will jump from NIS 540 ($170) to NIS 810 ($255).
They estimated the cost of the pay raise to be about NIS 60 million ($19 million).
“The national service members have done holy work for many years throughout the country, and give their heart and soul for the people of Israel,” Bennett was quoted as saying in the statement.
Liberman said the salary bump was aimed at encouraging young Israelis to serve the country, whether in the Israel Defense Forces or national service.
“We will continue to express our appreciation for those who serve, not only in words but also in actions,” the finance minister said.
National service is undertaken by some young Israelis as an alternative to mandatory military service. The program is largely favored by religiously observant Jewish women and other groups that traditionally shy away from serving in the IDF.
Monday’s move came after Liberman and Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced last week that IDF conscript troops’ salaries would increase by 50% in January, following public uproar over the stagnation of salaries for low-ranking soldiers as the pensions of retired career officers got a major boost.
IDF soldiers are technically not paid a salary but instead receive “subsistence costs” that are far lower than minimum wage. The remuneration is primarily meant to provide soldiers with pocket money while at home on leave, originally being based on the costs of things like movie tickets, clothing and restaurant meals.
With the new pay raise, frontline troops will receive NIS 3,048 ($984), combat troops will receive NIS 2,463 (795), combat-support troops will receive NIS 1,793 ($579), and administrative soldiers will receive NIS 1,235 ($399) each moth. Minimum wage in Israel is currently NIS 5,300 ($1,711) per month.