Israeli soldiers to get 50% pay increase

Combat soldiers will make just over half of minimum wage starting in January.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Starting in January 2022, IDF conscripts will receive a 50% pay raise, the Defense and Finance Ministries announced Tuesday.

For those not in the know, this sounds like a lot of money – and it is an NIS900 million extra annual expenditure on the government’s part. What it means in practical terms for the conscripts is that combat soldiers and the elite troop will receive NIS2,463 and NIS3,048 respectively each month, which is just over half of Israel’s minimum wage (NIS5,300).

Getting half again for their service for combat support staff will see their pay rise only to NIS1,793, while those in noncombat positions will earn NIS1,235.

Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi was very pleased with the decision.

“The people’s army is the guarantee for the security of the state and we must cherish the soldiers and those who serve in it,” he said. “IDF soldiers are the source of the IDF’s power – every soldier is a valuable asset that we received…and caring for them is our duty.

“The decision to increase the subsistence allowance for soldiers is a significant part of a broad program that helps compulsory soldiers from the day of their enlistment, until the day of their release and beyond.”

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Also included in the package, he said, is an increase in monetary support for lone soldiers and those conscripts who come from families in financial distress. The budget will also be increased for those discharged soldiers who are interested in going to university, doubling the number of those eligible for a scholarship.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, whose ministry will share the costs with the defense ministry, said that the increase shows that he has the back of the conscripts.

“Soldiers in the IDF, the State of Israel and I in particular will continue to look after you and your well-being,”

The issue over conscripts’ low pay gained more attention after the government’s August decision to raise the pensions of career soldiers. Kochavi had fought for the extra funding with the argument that the army had to pay extra in order to entice top professionals to stay in service when they could receive vastly higher salaries in the civilian sector.

After retiring from the IDF at age 46 after some 28 years, these veterans draw a generous pension while still being able to work in a full-time job elsewhere. They also receive other perks and discounts that conscripts discharged after their two and a half years of service do not receive.

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This is the first time in six years that the conscripts are getting a raise. In December 2015, they also received a 50% hike. At the time, it meant that combat soldiers, at the highest end of the scale, would make 35% of minimum wage.