In the video: The CSC who saved the stabbed man in the attack (Editing by Aviad Balali)
Yesterday, an Egyptian terrorist infiltrated Israeli territory and killed three soldiers, before being shot dead. With all the pain over the soldiers' deaths, the outcome could have been much worse, since in a worst-case scenario, such a terrorist, who spends many hours in Israeli territory without being caught, manages to reach one of the nearby communities and massacre civilians unhindered.
If, God forbid, such a scenario materializes, then by the time the security forces began managing the event, the person who was supposed to provide the immediate assistance would have been the CSO, who is responsible for the safety of the residents.
A month earlier, it was the CSCs who arrived first at the sites of missile hits in Operation Shield and Arrow, and not only on the confrontation line: in Gan Ner, the CSC was the one who identified the shooting at residents' homes about two weeks ago.
Despite the critical activity they perform, the CSCs fall between the cracks, they are subordinate to three bodies, two civilian and one military, which sometimes quarrel with each other, receive ridiculous salaries, operate without authority and are very frustrated by the ongoing failure, which could have been solved with a relatively low budget and with little goodwill.
A new bill to be tabled in the Knesset at the end of the month is supposed to end the saga that hurts everyone. Walla learned that an agreement had been reached in principle with the Ministry of Finance to allocate a sum of about half a billion shekels to budget the activities of the CSOs.
A journey of corporal vehicles from Nahal Oz to Kibbutz Nirim on the one-year anniversary of the death of Zavik Etzion, Kibbutz Nirim (together with the late Shahar Melamed) by mortar fire (2014) (Photo: Shai Makhlouf)
Why do CSOs be disrespected?
The ongoing security coordinators are responsible for securing the community in routine and emergency situations until the arrival of the security forces. They are supposed to be the liaison link between regional security agencies and general emergency forces, the community and residents. In frontline communities with the border, or in Judea and Samaria, their job involves 24/7 availability.
They are the first to arrive at the scene of missile landings, to ensure the safety of the residents in the event of an infiltration into the community, and if necessary even to strive for contact.
But despite their critical role in protecting the residents, and countless stories of heroism associated with their names, they are scorned by the system, which often manifests itself in sub-conditions. The meager salary of CSCs comes out of the defense budget and is transferred to the local authorities that pay it.
The appointment is given to them by the commander of the regional brigade, and thus they are subordinate to the regional brigade, the head of the council and the town's management. It turns out that there are quite a few situations in which each of these bodies gives them conflicting instructions.
"Until the 90s, we were employees of the Ministry of Defense," saysItai Hoffman, chairman of the CSO, "and then the local authorities became our employers. The money from the Ministry of Defense that is intended for us comes under the clause of 'participation in the security component - CSO,' as if we were a perimeter fence, gate, or lamppost, and that's how we are treated as objects."
The salary they receive ranges from NIS 3,000 to NIS 8,500 net, subject to the classification of the locality in which they operate: front, up to 4 km from the border, near the fence 4-7 km, and rear, and according to location, the salary level is derived.
"The missile," Hoffman emphasizes, "doesn't know how to differentiate between the classifications. In Judea and Samaria, for example, everyone is at the front, and Gan-Ner, which recently came under fire, is considered only "near the fence," that is, budgeted for low wages. You have to understand that there is no definition of full-time or half-time. The brigade commander expects her to do whatever is necessary and be fully available, but who can support a family only from NIS 8,500? Obviously, you have to work more work to survive.
"Because we have so many bosses, absurd situations can happen. There is tension in the north and the mayor quarrels with the brigade commander, so he can tell the chief of staff, 'Don't go to an assessment of the situation,' or the head of a town can fire a chief of staff because he is at odds with him. In addition, we don't have insurance, we have to travel with our private car on missions assigned to us by the army.
"We have no authority for any enforcement activity. You never know if an incident is criminal or criminal, and the only authority we have is a delay due to suspicion of carrying illegal weapons, and that too - only at the entrance to the authority. If the suspect comes in, we can't do that either. According to the law, we are only authorized to call for help."
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MK Zvika Fogel, Chairman of the National Security Committee. Together with MK Yitzhak Kreuzer, he will submit a bill that will subordinate the CSCs to a security body rather than a civilian body (Photo: Flash 90, Jonathan Zindel)
The strike, the promises and legislation on the way
In October 2022, 400 CSCs across the country went on a general strike, in order to get the Ministry of Defense to open negotiations with them on appropriate terms and recognize their contribution to the security of the residents. The strike ended with an agreement that within three months the issue would be settled and nothing significant happened.
"We should be priced on alert," Hoffman says, "and not expected to be available around the clock for starvation wages. The National Histadrut and I have formulated a new draft law, based on the Fire Protection Law, with adjustments to the CSO's work. We demand that the authority over the CSCs be transferred to the Ministry of National Security, as well as a significant salary increase, with all CSCs receiving similar salaries, according to a threat scale.
"MK Yitzhak Kreuzer of Otzma Yehudit and Zvika Fogel, Chairman of the National Security Committee, are promoting it and on June 28 it will be placed on the Knesset table. The CSCs will no longer be under municipal authorities, their place is under a security body, so that we will no longer encounter a situation in which the council instructs the CSC to evacuate the residents of the community in the envelope and the brigade commander orders not to go anywhere."