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Israeli army announces benefits to encourage recruitment to combat units

Israeli forces carry arrested 19 wanted Palestinian overnight in the West Bank, September 26, 2016
Israeli Army Spokesman
Motivation among new recruits to serve in the combat units has decreased by 1.8% over the past year

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced the launch on Thursday of a new program to try to increase recruitment for combat units. The package of benefits is designed to stop what is seen to be a decrease in the number of recruits willing to serve on the frontlines.

From November 1, soldiers in their third year of service in a combat unit will receive a pay increase from 1,600 shekels a month, to 2000 shekels - the equivalent of approximately $565/month.

Combat soldiers will also receive 1,000 shekels worth of vouchers for use in restaurants, cinemas, sports clothing shops and other attractions.

Some soldiers will also receive vouchers for driving lessons, and help with payment for the psychometric courses required for university entrance. Combat fighters will be able to use buses for free while wearing civilian clothing - until now soldiers had to be in uniform to travel without payment. And the benefit will extend to transportation to the southern coastal city of Eilat, which had previously been excluded from the transportation benefits.

Israel Police

The plan also redefines which soldiers count as combat soldiers, although it is still unclear whether certain units will come under the plan, including soldiers who operate the Iron Dome missile defense system as they are not operating in enemy territory.

Outdated military bases will also receive an upgrade.

The Ynet news site reports that over the past year, motivation to serve in the combat units has decreased by 1.8% with only 67% expressing an interest.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said on Wednesday that it was part of a series of steps to "convey a message of honoring the soldiers."

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