Israeli government approves revised wartime budget with more defence spending
Read below: Hamas’s battalion framework in northern Gaza dismantled: Israeli Defence Minister
JERUSALEM — The Israeli Finance Ministry said the government has approved an updated wartime budget for 2024, with significant increases in defence spending amid the raging fighting with Hamas in Gaza.
The original budget for 2024 was approved by Parliament in May 2023, but the war that began following the October 7, 2023 Hamas attackprompted a new budget to cover the higher costs, reports Xinhua news agency.
The updated budget, which needs parliamentary approval, was set at 582 billion shekels ($155 billion ), including an extra 55 billion shekels for defense to cover combat expenses and strengthen the army.
The Ministry said all ministries’ budgets were cut because of the high military spending.
The total budget also includes a 9-billion-shekel grant plan for military reservists, security and protection for localities, support for the mental health system, and rehabilitation of southern areas neighboring Gaza.
The National Unity ministers, the largest opposition faction that joined the war cabinet after the conflict started, voted against the budget, arguing that the new budget “does not reflect the necessary fundamental change of priorities and ignores the heavy consequences of the war”.
The faction demanded closing unneeded ministries, freezing the law that allows ministers to resign from parliament to add new lawmakers, freezing lawmakers’ salaries, and cutting funds for coalition parties.
According to the Bank of Israel, the war is costing the Jewish nation’s economy $600 million a week due to work absences.
This is equivalent to about 6 per cent of the weekly GDP.
On the other hand, Israel’s treasury minister said the daily direct cost of the Gaza war to her country is about $246 million.
Hamas’s battalion framework in northern Gaza dismantled: Israeli Defence Minister
TEL AVIV — Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant claimed that the military has dismantled the Hamas militant group’s entire military battalion framework in northern Gaza.
In a statement late Monday, Gallant said that although the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was reducing the intensity of its advances in northern Gaza, the military will continue to eliminate pockets of influence and resistance of the militant group.
He also said that these pockets of resistance would be eliminated through raids, airstrikes, special operations and other focused activites to destroy the remaining terror operators acting on specific and precise intelligence.
Gallant further said that the army will continue its intense operations in central and southern Gaza strip and added that operations will also be expanded to the Ramallah area as well.
He said that IDF was destroying the military industry of Hamas in central Gaza where the militant outfit was engaged in the production of rockets, IEDs and other explosives.
Yesterday, Hamas released a video of Itay, Yossi and Noa—innocent civilians being held captive in Gaza.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 15, 2024
This is a prime example of how Hamas is weaponizing social media as an instrument of war and continues to exploit the lives of innocents as pawns for their terrorism. pic.twitter.com/V4Q6Kg7GTr
The Defense Minister noted that the army has made major progress in southern Gaza strip and was focusing on destroying the terror group‘s senior leadership who are supposedly holed up in the Khan Younis area.
He also said that it was only because of the intense military action carried out by the IDF, that the terror organisation came the mediation table and added that once the fire power was stopped, the hostages would be forgotten by the world and they would remain in captivity.
Gallant said that the 162nd Division of IDF will remain in northern Gaza, carrying out clean-up operations to locate Hamas’s infrastructure and kill or capture its remaining operatives.
While the 99th Division is operating in the central part of the besieged enclave, the 98th Division is fighting Hamas in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza.