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Israel allocates $8bn towards war against Gaza

December 7, 2023 at 4:53 pm

Deputies of Israeli parliament in Jerusalem in the Knesset [Noam Moskowitz/Knesset/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

The Knesset, yesterday, advanced proposals to allocate over NIS 30 billion ($8 billion) towards the war against Gaza, with NIS 26 billion ($7 billion) set to be covered by expanding the national debt.

According to The Times of Israel, the plenary session granted approval for the plan in the initial of three mandatory floor votes, with discussions that were held before the final voting.

The revised 2023 budget designates approximately NIS 17 billion ($4 billion) for military purposes and around NIS 13.3 billion ($3 billion) for civil support. However, the data suggests that the adjustments will also direct additional funds to several ministries unrelated to the war effort, which is considered by the public as supporting unnecessary offices.

Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, revealed that slightly over NIS 4 billion ($1 billion) of the NIS 30 billion ($8 billion) plan will be sourced from the redirected funds of the approved 2023-2024 budget this May.

A significant portion of this reallocation will stem from cuts to various government ministries, supplemented in part by other funds. These include approximately NIS 1.6 billion repurposed from political earmarks for the war effort and a contribution from the Jewish National Fund, reported Smotrich’s office.

Meanwhile, the Knesset advanced a bill on Sunday to increase the operational deficit, facilitating additional spending to support the majority of the 2023 budget update. Smotrich warned, during his address to the plenum, that Israel will have to cover its increased national debt in the future, stating, “There are no free lunches and what we spend today we will pay for with interest in the coming years.”

Moreover, data released yesterday evening by Channel 12 news revealed notable increases in the budgets of several ministries seemingly unrelated to the ongoing war in the updated 2023 budget.

The Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, under UTJ’s Meir Porush, saw an increase from NIS 24 million ($6 million) to NIS 68 million ($18 million); the Heritage Ministry, led by Religious Zionism’s Amichai Eliyahu, received NIS 101 million ($27 million), up from NIS 74 million ($20 million); the National Missions Ministry, under Religious Zionism’s Orit Strock, received NIS 343 million ($92 million), up from NIS 133 million ($35 million).

This comes a week after the office of Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced that his Ministry is set to receive an extra 1.8 billion shekels ($500 million) for equipment for the police, civilian response teams, the prison service and fire-fighters.

According to the Times of Israel, the cabinet approved this increase as a component of a 30 billion shekels ($8.1 billion) budget reallocation towards efforts related to the ongoing war on Gaza.

Israel resumed its military offensive on the Gaza Strip on Friday, after the end of a week-long humanitarian pause with the Palestinian group, Hamas.

At least 16,248 Palestinians have been killed and more than 43,616 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the enclave since 7 October following a cross-border attack by Hamas.

The Israeli death toll in the Hamas attack stood at 1,200, according to official figures.

READ: Gaza war to end with Hamas surrender: Israel