Ministries Agree Plan to Improve Care for Wounded Soldiers

YERUSHALAYIM -
IDF veterans in a protest for better rehabilitations services for wounded soldiers, outside the Knesset, Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ announced on Thursday that the government has reached agreement on a plan to improve services for wounded IDF soldiers.

“After many efforts, we reached an agreement between the Prime Minister’s Office and defense and finance ministries, together with the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization, on a budget [for] reforming the Rehabilitation Department. Wounded IDF veterans are important and dear to us and an immediate and fundamental reform is needed to ensure the help that they deserve,” Netanyahu said in a statement from his office.

He promised that a cabinet vote for approval of the plan would be “as soon as possible,” but doesn’t specify when.

The reported budget allocation of 300 million shekels was said to be a compromise worked out between the Defense and Finance ministries. Initially, 350 million had been sought.

According to the Defense Ministry, the funding will go toward the immediate hire of 60 people for the Rehabilitation Department and additional support for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reports that the reforms were being delayed by a budgetary fight between the prime minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz earlier this week, touched off protest demonstrations.

On Wednesday, dozens of wounded veterans blocked traffic at the entrance to Yerushalayim. Prior to that, they gathered outside the Knesset, where scuffles with security personnel occurred when some demonstrators attempted to move aside barricades to gain entry to the building, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

The Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Department has been the target of severe criticism since a veteran with PTSD, Itzik Saidyan, who had struggled to receive help from the ministry, severely injured himself while protesting outside the department’s offices in Petach Tikva last month. He remains in serious condition.