Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, announced on Monday that reservist training for 2014 would be canceled. Gantz cited continued budget constraints and changing “national priorities” as defense officials lobby the government for more funds.
Financial shortfalls have plagued other IDF programs as well. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said last week that such cuts could jeopardize the David’s Sling anti-missile system. The system, designed to intercept medium to long range rockets, was expected to become operational later this year. Ya’alon also canceled an upcoming home front drill called “Turning Point 8.” The exercise would test the response and coordination of various government offices, local authorities, and first responders in the event of attack or disaster. Overall, IDF leaders believe that recent fiscal restraint could seriously impact operational readiness.
A file photo of IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. (Photo: AFP)
Even while some programs are cut, changing threats have shifted resources to other IDF projects. Several months ago, the army completed a 1.6 billion shekel fence between Sinai and the Negev desert to keep terrorists and illegal migrants from infiltrating Israeli territory. Additionally, the IDF recently sent extra troops to northern Israel in response to violence from Syria and threats from Hezbollah.
Even as Israel’s top defense officials have become increasingly vocal about their need for more resources, future funding may be decided more by politicians than the military. Last week Deputy Finance Minister Miki Levy warned that the IDF would probably not see an increase in funding this year, saying that the organization just needed to “prioritize” existing income. But the conflict between the Finance Ministry and Defense Ministry highlights a wider debate regarding government expenditures and social welfare that emerged out of protests in 2011.