Israel to boost security budget by hundreds of millions of dollars

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the cabinet with his “2030 Security Concept” on Wednesday, which will add hundreds of millions of dollars to military spending, and outlines the expected threats, military manpower needs, and principles for using force over the next decade.

The full classified version of the document, which has been developed over the past two years, will soon be shared with the Knesset Subcommittee for the Intelligence Services, the Prime Minister’s Office said, as well as with the IDF General Staff, Shin Bet security service, and Mossad.

The unclassified version of the plan addresses security outlays and calls for an increase in defense spending of 0.2 to 0.3 percent of gross national product. According to the plan, the goal aims to reach an average annual growth of 3-4% with an average security budget of 6% of GNP.

GNP is currently $316 billion, so the increase for the military will amount to a sum between $630 million and $950 million.

“Due to our small area, the population concentration and the numerous threats around us, Israel will always have security needs that are much greater than any other state of similar size,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew video statement. “Today the Israeli economy is strong enough to allow for this supplement. In any case the increase will be enacted while maintaining a responsible budgetary framework.”

Praising Israel’s economy, Netanyahu said increased defense spending is needed to ensure further economic growth.

“In the last 20 years we have cultivated a free economy in order to serve national needs, especially security,” he said. “Today we are called upon to invest more in security in order to defend our achievements and ensure continued economic growth.”

The prime minister added: “The combination of our security and economic strengths will increase Israel’s status as an asset in the eyes of other countries and thereby increase our diplomatic strength.”

Netanyahu said the additional security outlays would to go toward strengthening the country’s offensive capabilities, cyber capabilities, upgrading its anti-missile defense systems, protective measures on the home front, and the completion of security barriers.

Israel is currently working to complete a sea barrier to protect the country from attacks from the Gaza Strip. When finished it will be 200 meters (650 feet) long, 50 meters (160 feet) wide and six meters (20 feet) above the water. There will also be defensive infrastructure along the top of the barrier.

The defensive sea shield comes in addition to work that began last year on a massive barrier Israel is constructing along its land border with the Gaza Strip.

The work on the 37-mile (60-kilometer) barrier began in 2016 and is expected to be finished around the end of next year. It will feature an advanced underground protection system that extends dozens of meters below the ground — the army does not reveal the depth — in order to detect and destroy tunnels that attempt to penetrate into Israeli territory, as well as an aboveground metal fence adorned with sensors.

The project is expected to cost approximately NIS 3 billion ($833 million), with each kilometer of the underground portion of the barrier costing approximately NIS 41.5 million ($11.5 million). The aboveground fence is significantly cheaper at just NIS 1.5 million ($416,000) per kilometer.


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