Jerusalam: 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.