Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announce NIS 150 million toward strengthening Israel's northern border on January 11, 2018...
(photo credit: YONI RIKNER)
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have agreed to allocate NIS 150 million to strengthen and fortify buildings in the North and to create a team to examine the defense establishment’s demand for an increase in the state budget.
The team will present its recommendations to the security cabinet.
“The agreement we reached will enable, among other things, the implementation of the plan to fortify the northern communities. We will work together to improve the preparedness of those communities,” Liberman said on Thursday, thanking Kahlon for the joint work on the issue.
“The conclusion we reached proves once again that the defense minister and I know how to reach agreements without quarreling in the media,” said Kahlon, adding, “Our soldiers and state security are above all. And we must fulfill all our obligations.”
In November, Liberman accused the Finance Ministry
of stalling funding on the implementation of a 2014 cabinet decision to increase protection for the home front, especially for communities in the North, which he said were severely lacking compared to those in southern Israel.
During a meeting in Haifa with local officials and representatives from the IDF Home Front Command, Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry and others, Liberman urged them to demand that the government implement decisions made in 2014 to allocate NIS 150m. annually for 10 years in order close the protection gaps throughout the country.
Later that month, Liberman asked for an increase of NIS 4.8 billion to the IDF’s budget, citing “significant” changes that have dramatically altered Israel’s security situation, including the massive Russian presence in Syria, precision weapons in the hands of groups such as Hezbollah, as well as the dramatic acceleration of Iran’s military industry.
As the war in Syria seems to be winding down in President Bashar Assad’s favor, Israel fears that Iran will help Hezbollah produce accurate precision-guided missiles and help Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias to strengthen their foothold on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
The defense minister had explained that “the coalition agreement has a clause that specifically states that if there is a significant change [in the region], we can ask for additional funds.”
The IDF believes that the next war on the northern border will not be contained to one front, but along the entire northern border with both Lebanon and Syria. The military also expects that during the next war with Hezbollah the terrorist group will try to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.