IDF out of funds, senior official reportedly says

As crisis over budget comes to a head, military claims it needs ‘billions of shekels’ to stay afloat

A senior military official reportedly said that “the IDF has run out of funds” and that the military needs “billions of shekels within days in order to continue to operate.”

The official was speaking anonymously Monday to Channel 10 about deep cuts to the defense budget that have reportedly hurt the army’s training programs and general readiness.

He noted that the military had cut armored units and fighter jet squadrons and fired a thousand people in under three months, but said that was still not enough to counter the lack of cash.

“In the next few days IDF chief Benny Gantz will decide which exercises and trainings to cancel,” the official said.

On Saturday Deputy Finance Minister Miki Levy (Yesh Atid) warned that the Defense Ministry would not see its budget increased, despite a report Friday that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Gantz had decided to cancel a major upcoming national preparedness exercise in light of the ongoing budgetary dispute.

Levy accused the defense establishment of mismanaging the budget and urged defense officials to “sit down and prioritize.”

Ya’alon on Wednesday described the fiscal state of the country’s defenses as a “crisis,” and criticized the Finance Ministry’s conduct in doling out funds.

“We are in a crisis; this is a fatal blow to training,” he told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “We are going to decrease the level of air, sea, and land training even further, and preparedness, readiness and competence will suffer.

“Starting next month we will be forced to enter a difficult period. This is a harsh blow to the competency of the regular fighters, not to mention the reserves,” he said.

Last May, the government set the IDF budget at NIS 51 billion ($14.5 billion). The military took a cut of NIS 3 billion from its 2014 budget, but argued that the cuts would actually amount to NIS 7.4 billion ($2.1 billion) due to factors beyond the IDF’s control, such as higher electricity costs and taxes, payments for injured soldiers and additional benefits for career soldiers due to the rising retirement age.

Meanwhile, the IDF said it had done its part, making cuts to its workforce and, in June, halting operational activity for reservist units for the rest of this year.

The standoff between the Finance and Defense ministries over the 2014 defense budget was thought to have come to an end in late October with the security cabinet approving an infusion of NIS 2.75 billion ($780 million) for the defense establishment.

The cabinet was unanimous in its decision, and the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the cash for the budget increase would be drawn from a budget surplus.

The IDF had hoped to secure a NIS 4.5 billion ($1.28 billion) increase.

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