Israel spent an additional $10.9 million in 2018 to contend with Gaza border violence, the defense ministry said.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Israel spent some NIS 40 million ($10.9 million) on grappling with riots and protests along the Gaza border in 2018, the Defense Ministry said Monday. The additional expenses became necessary on the heels of the Hamas calls for weekly “March of Return” protests at the Gazan border with Israel.
The Hamas calls came after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the planning of the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Though clashes took place nearly every Friday, the deadliest encounter happened on Monday, May 14, when the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was dedicated. On that day, over 60 Palestinians were killed as some 40,000 Gazans descended upon the border. Hamas acknowledged that 50 of the dead were its members, and Islamic Jihad said that several more people were from that organization.
Gazans have been regularly burning tires and hurling stones as well as grenades and other explosive devices towards Israeli soldiers at the weekly protests, said the IDF.
The past year also brought a wave of incendiary kite and balloon attacks across the border, setting Israeli fields on fire and creating extensive economic damage.
The Defense Ministry said that the NIS 40 million came from a special fund that was set up beyond the IDF’s annual operating budget. It did not include compensation payments to the residents of the area around Gaza whose farmlands were burned in the arson attacks by Palestinians.
According to the ministry, most of the additional funds were spent on riot-control weapons and drones.
Egypt is reported to have been involved in efforts to calm the Gaza-Israel border tensions, and an unofficial, temporary ceasefire was said to have been reached in November following a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israeli areas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s consent to a cessation in Israeli strikes into the Strip if Hamas and other terror groups stopped firing at Israel led to the resignation of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister, a move that endangered the prime minister’s majority in parliament and ultimately set the stage for an early Knesset election that has since been set for April 9.