Soldiers denied free train rides

Shaul Mofaz, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has threatened to hold up the defense budget until soldiers are again allowed to ride trains for free on Sunday mornings.

On Jan. 22, Israel Railroads for the first time instituted a blackout on free travel for Israeli soldiers from 6 to 9 a.m. to ease overcrowding. Sunday is the railway’s busiest day of the week, and it is between those hours that most Israeli soldiers head back to their bases across the country after weekend furloughs.

The soldiers were provided free bus transportation, but some feared that traffic jams would prevent them from making it back to their bases on time, so they paid for train tickets.

While the move reportedly will save the Israel Defense Forces millions of shekels, Mofaz said, “Until soldiers are allowed to travel by train for free, we will not deal with the defense establishment’s budgets.” — jta