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Israeli Cabinet OKs $2.44 billion outline for IDF reservists

The soldiers will receive the money "without delay," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (left) attend a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 7, 2024. Photo by Yariv Katz/pool.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (left) attend a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 7, 2024. Photo by Yariv Katz/pool.

Israel’s wartime unity government approved a 9 billion shekel ($2.44 billion) outline to support Israel Defense Forces reservists (and their dependents) safeguarding the Jewish state, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government acted so that reservists would receive the money “without delay.”

“They are true heroes. They left their homes to defend our home. On behalf of all of us, I salute our wonderful soldiers who are safeguarding us all,” the premier said as he thanked Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for their work on the initiative.

Gallant noted that, in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, hundreds of thousands of reservists “did not ask questions, went straight to the field, sometimes even before they were called up, and since then they have been in the south, the north and in Judea and Samaria.

“The reservists require three conditions: clear missions, military resources to carry out the missions, and fair compensation. The plan that we in the government are approving today places reservists at the center and tells them and their families: you are not alone,” he said.

Smotrich hailed the decision as being “among the most important that has been made in this room since the start of the war.

“There has not been reserve duty as long as this in the history of the State of Israel, not even in [the] Yom Kippur [war], and this is the product of a great spirit and huge backing,” said the finance minister. “The people of Israel will win together and fully back the soldiers in the field.”

The government’s plan will be rolled out in three phases, with the first starting immediately, the Prime Minister’s Office said. As part of the first phase, 1.5 billion shekels ($407 million) will be distributed in grants totaling up to 3,900 shekels ($1,000) for married combat soldiers.

The government on Sunday also approved grants to reservists with special-needs children and for self-employed soldiers.

In the coming days, two additional phases will be enacted as part of the 2024 state budget. The second phase will commence immediately after the government approves the 2024 state budget.

Among the measures under consideration as part of the second phase are additional grants for the month of January, alternatives for unemployment compensation and unpaid leave, maternity leave for partners, as well as family and emotional support.

The third phase is to include expanded household grants, options for family leave, social indemnification for employers, student tuition, benefits for discharged soldiers, continued special compensation for those serving over 60 days and housing assistance.

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