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Israeli troops short of combat gear after 360,000 reservists called up after Hamas attacks

More than 5% of the country is currently serving or was called up to serve after what many call "Israel's 9/11." Supply-chain problems abound, given the massive size of the deployment of IDF troops.

Published: October 22, 2023 12:46am

Updated: October 22, 2023 11:17am

Israel is facing challenges trying to equip its soldiers, including the roughly 360,000 reservists who were called up to fight after Hamas' terror attack on the country earlier this month.

Donations are pouring into the country, but not all of them are useful. And some reservists have even taken to social media to request basic gear such as uniforms and knee pads, with one describing his unit as "horribly under equipped."

Some of the reserve soldiers who were called up "weren't able to be deployed because there was just no weapons for them," a source familiar with the Israeli military supply chain told Just the News.

Of those who were given weapons, some received M-16 rifles from the Vietnam War, the official said.

"The gear that they got was from the 1970s," according to the official, who explained that much of it was leftover gear from when the U.S. sent equipment to Israel for the Yom Kippur War in 1973. 

The claim was substantiated by a reserve soldier who flew back to Israel after being called up to fight. 

The service member, who finished mandatory conscription earlier this year, has been staying with family until he receives equipment to be stationed in the north near Lebanon, where a second front threatens to break out.

The soldier told Just the News his commander had said the equipment would be provided "soon," but the Israel Defense Forces do not have it right now.

Numerous civilian groups responded across the world to raise funds for and buy equipment to give to troops, but not all of the donations can be used, as they do not all meet Israeli military specifications.

The IDF said on Monday that it received dozens of shipments of bulletproof vests but they were discovered to be defective after the military tested them, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The problem appears to be at least partially logistical as Israel rushes to arm and equip hundreds of thousands of extra soldiers.

The IDF had 169,500 active troops and 465,000 reserve personnel according to a 2023 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank. With a population of more than 9.7 million, at least 5% of the country is currently serving or was recently called up to fight. 

The quick response comes after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel earlier this month, killing at least 1,400 people in one day, including 31 U.S. citizens.

One person familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel that the country faces a "logistics and supply chain nightmare" as so many soldiers are being mobilized so quickly.

"There are few, if any, nations in the world that can call up that many reservists and have everything ready to go," the source said.

The problem appears to have been further exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. transferred hundreds of thousands of munitions from Israel to Ukraine for their war effort earlier this year.

The official who spoke with Just the News suspects that the U.S. funding for Israel appears to have gone toward creating new tanks, missiles and airplanes, but the ground troops still need more support.

The official is currently accepting donations to purchase shipments of gear from private vendors and drive it to the Gaza border. 

"Everything gets bought out a few hours after it lands," the person said. "There is nothing here on hand in large amounts." 

The official called for an investigation after the war is over to figure out why troops were so underprepared. 

"I want every general who is in charge of equipment to be investigated," the official said. "I want a full inquiry, a full investigation of where tens if not hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment went missing."

The military set up a hotline for reservists to call and ask about food, equipment and logistics. 

Additionally, last week Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry said it would exempt dozens of imported products from inspection such as emergency drinking water, civilian protective equipment and batteries.

The Ministry of Defense is allowing planes to arrive in Israel with equipment such as ceramic armor plates, but officials are asking for all equipment to meet its requirements.

In addition to equipment, soldiers are still asking for items ranging from cigarettes to tzitzit, a garment worn by religious Jewish men. Other requested items include tourniquet kits, backpacks, tactical knives, band-aids, black markers, duct tape, headlamps and feminine hygiene products, all of which can be delivered to various drop-off centers throughout the country. 

Officials are optimistic that the equipment problems will be sorted out within the next several weeks as supplies are dropped off to units throughout the country. 

The soldier who spoke with Just the News expressed confidence in Israel's capabilities with or without the proper military gear. 

"They just made a huge mistake," the soldier said, referring to the terrorists who invaded Israel.

If other terrorists, including members of Hezbollah, invade Israel from Lebanon, "they're gonna regret it," he also said. "Either way, we are ready with my equipment without my equipment. We're ready and we're gonna f*** them."

Neither the Israel Defense Forces nor Israel's Ministry of Defense responded to Just the News' request for comment.

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