Defense Ministry admits it owes NIS 65m. to up security in settlements

Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Ganz: ‘This should not be an election issue; everyone deserves to be safe.’

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July 15, 2019 04:55
3 minute read.
Miriam (R) and Neryah (L) look up at their baby in an August photograph

Miriam (R) and Neryah (L) look up at their baby in a settlement. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Due to what is being termed a “disagreement” between the Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry, some NIS 65 million in security funding has not yet been transferred to communities in Judea and Samaria, according to Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Ganz.

The missing funds, first revealed by Israel Hayom, is a portion of the NIS 85 million committed to the settlements, which would go to cover such protective devices as security cameras, improved fencing, lights, security trucks and other items.

Ganz said that shortly after the 2016 attack that killed mother-of-six Dafna Meir, who was stabbed to death by a terrorist when she exited her home in the Jewish community of Otniel, the defense establishment determined to improve protection in the West Bank, specifically around communities that are prone to attacks and ones that were still lacking necessary supports.

Improvements were supposed to be completed this year, but due to the budget freeze, these upgrades have not only not been completed, but many of them have not been started.

“There is so much to do,” Ganz told The Jerusalem Post.

He said that the former security budget for the settlements was NIS 400 million, but the government had reduced that budget already. After the IDF assessment, NIS 85 million was allotted. After a struggle, a first NIS 20 million was released. The rest of the money was supposed to follow shortly thereafter, but it did not.

“Neve Tzuf needed its fence to be upgraded,” Ganz told the Post. “The community was supposed to get censors and cameras. The budget did not come. Then, the Salomons were murdered. A week after, somehow the money for those items came.”

On a Shabbat in 2017, terrorist Omar al-Abed entered the town of Neve Tzuf in Binyamin armed with a knife. He broke into the Salomon family home while the members of the family were organizing a “shalom zachar” event on the occasion of the grandson’s birth. He first stabbed Chaya, 46, the family member who was standing near the door. She managed to escape to the second floor, wounded and bleeding. Then he stabbed to death Yosef, 70, Chaya’s father, before attacking Yosef’s 35-year-old son, Elad, stabbing him to death as well.

“There are others like Neve Tzuf,” Ganz said, though he could not reveal specifics for security reasons.

Ganz recalled how during the previous election, in December 2018, several Yesha leaders – Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, Kiryat Arba Council head Eliyahu Libman and himself – were so angry with Netanyahu that they boycotted a meeting held in the settlements.

“Why should we go and shake hands and support the prime minister when the money had still not come?” Ganz said. Instead, the heads wrote a letter to the prime minister saying that they were upset that he had failed to restore NIS 400 million in budget cuts for security. They also asked him to restore the road blocks he had removed in the West Bank, and to take significant measures in support of settlement building.

“Maybe security will be an election issue and they will give us the funds, but we should not have to push politicians to give us the security funds,” Ganz continued. “The army should deliver us security. This should not be an election issue; everyone deserves to be safe.”

The Defense Ministry told the Post that “the balance of the budget for these security components in the settlements will be transferred as soon as possible,” and that it should be emphasized that “the significant part of the budget has already been transferred to the settlements.”

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