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A Growing Butcher’s Bill: Israel’s War Spending

The Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron is worried. He is keeping an eye on the ballooning costs of his country’s war against Gaza and the Palestinians. Initially, the Netanyahu government promised to increase its defence budget by NIS 20 billion (US$5.48 billion) per annum in the aftermath of the war. But a document from the Finance Ministry presented to the Knesset Finance Committee on December 25 suggests that the number is NIS 10 billion greater.

The Finance Ministry is also projecting that the war against Hamas will cost the country’s budget somewhere in the order of NIS 50 billion (US$13.8 billion). NIS 9.6 billion will go towards such expenses as evacuating residents close to the borders of the country’s north and south, buttressing emergency forces and rehabilitation purposes.

The increased military budget is predictable and in keeping with the proclivities of the Israeli state. What is striking is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regarded Israeli defence expenditure as generally inadequate when looked at as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Between 2012 and 2022, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP fell from 5.64% to 4.51%. Doing so enables him to have two bites at the same rotten cherry: to claim he was blameless for that very decline in military expenditure, and to show that he intends to rectify a problem he was hardly blameless for.

Even in war time, Netanyahu is proving oleaginous in his policy making. The mid-December supplementary budget for 2023, coming in at NIS 28.9 billion, was intended to cover the ongoing conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah. But its approval was hardly universal. Opponents of the budget noted the allocation of hundreds of millions of shekels towards “coalition funds” intended for non-war related projects relevant to parliamentarians and ministers. Benny Gantz’s National Unity party, a coalition partner, would have nothing to do with it. Intelligence minister Gila Gamliel was absent from the vote, while Yuli Edelstein of Netanyahu’s own Likud Party abstained. Opposition leader Yair Lapid pointed the finger at the rising budget deficit.

On December 18, Yaron gave vent to some of his concerns. “During this period, more than at any other time, and as investors, rating agencies, financial markets and the public as a whole are carefully examining policymaking in Israel, it is necessary to manage economic policy – fiscal and monetary – with great responsibility.”

Body counts interest Yaron less than budget figures and reputational damage in the markets, though killing Palestinians is proving an expensive business. “The government will have to find the right balance between financing war expenses and the expected increase in the defence budget and the need to continue investing in other civilian budgets, which are already low, in particular in growth engines such as infrastructure and education.”

Yaron has every reason to assume that costs will continue to balloon. For one thing, Netanyahu’s idea of peace in the current conflict reads like a blueprint for ongoing, lengthy massacre, accompanied by permanent mass incarceration: the destruction of Hamas itself, the demilitarisation of Gaza and a Palestinian society free of radical elements. This is a nightmare to both humanitarians and the belt-tighteners in the Finance Ministry.

Notably, the plan says nothing about Palestinian statehood, which, in the scheme of Israel’s aims, has been euthanised. Gaza, the designated monstrosity Israel nourished as a supposedly useful tool to keep Palestinian ambitions in check, is to be turned into a prison entity that seems awfully much like it was prior to the October 7 attacks by Hamas. (The cruel, in such cases, lack imagination.)

A “temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt” will be established in accordance with “Israel’s security needs”. The zone will also serve to prevent “smuggling of weapons into the territory”, which sounds much like the original blockade, lasting 14 years, that was meant to achieve the same purpose.

The Israeli PM is, however, promising that the destruction of Hamas will take place “in full compliance with international law”, begging the question what sort of international law he is consulting. Given various official statements from Netanyahu’s cabinet and the Israeli Defence Forces, it must be either a law of jungle provenance or one applicable to animal kind. That same standard of legal analysis has permitted the generously expansive massacre of over 20,000 Palestinians, a staggering number of them children, the ongoing flattening of Gaza, and the utter destruction of critical infrastructure.

Given that Israeli law, alongside military and administrative policy, does nothing other than encourage the radicalisation of Palestinians and the fertilising of the Jihadist soil, this is charmingly delusionary. The current war will simply prove to be the same as previous ones, protean, adjustable, and shape changing. Conflict will simply continue by other means, a continued growth of flowering hatreds, leaving Israel a butcher’s bill of shekels and casualties it is only now chewing over.


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  1. Phil Pryor

    “International law” must be regarded as a subsection of extreme fiction, with scripts by supremacists to achieve success. After all, with a godlike script, e g, John Wayne, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Clint Eastwood and others have done deeds of murder and worse, quickly and thoroughly and in accordance with desired brainless, gutless, heartless, childish, triumphal assuredness. Israel is impelled to do this sort of thing, based on ancient myth, fraud, fiction, fantasy and felonious intent. Zipnism is and always was a system of fantasy supremacist uberdomination, a plan to take without thought or mercy. Ironically, fatally, Adolf went for broke always, and lost, his life, his nation, his ultimate twisted aim. Is Israel courting a go for broke mentality? If it were possible, I’d wish, and urge all to join this, that no more unnecessary lives be lost, Israeli and Palestinian. But has the chance gone forever, of a two state solution as the only peaceful compromise?

  2. Douglas Pritchard

    The Zionists have used denial of food, water, power etc as a tool in their apartheid control over Palestinians.
    Reaction from the west has been non-existant.
    Israels neighbours are tuned in, and by closing the Suez, and selectivly controlling shipping into Israel ports they are turning the tables in a modest way.
    Staying out of this fracas is a wise move by Albo, because as the Zionists become isolated, and a millstone for the US taxpayer, then its going to get even more messy.

  3. James Robert LEONARD

    This useless site has blocked me for undefined “security reasons”.
    Their site for managing membership has no “unsubscribe” provision. How do I remove myself from the site?

  4. Roswell

    James, what makes you think you’ve been blocked?

    If you were blocked, you wouldn’t be able to comment.

    What message are you getting?

  5. Roswell

    James, I just had a thought.

    You may have got that message because you were attempting to login to the site.

    You don’t need to login. That’s only for admin or authors. Readers and commenters do not need to.

  6. Terence Mills

    Mr Leonard

    You now have us all intrigued that you consider you have been denied your right to freedom of speech.

    Please retrieve the dummy from beyond your pram and let’s hear from you.

  7. Clakka

    Good article Dr Binoy.

    Agree wholeheartedly with the comments of PP and DP.

  8. leefe

    There”s been scant compliance with international law so far; one can only assume that Netanyahu intends to continue his SOP.

  9. Roswell

    Terry, Mr Leonard never came back. I guess he said his piece.

  10. OldWomBat

    The west rightly condemned Russia for bombing civilians and hospitals in Ukraine. Not so when it comes to Israel that seems to have a free pass to do whatever it wants. Israel is only ensuring that hatred is stoked to new heights, and that new forms of terrorism will multiply with actions against Israel that will continue to embroil future generations into this repetitive madness.

  11. andyfiftysix

    Israel has lost the war. Its won this battle for sure but that was the intent all along. Hamas would call Israeli lead foot reaction a win win. Not only has it lost the moral high ground, its propaganda has been exposed and its costing them a pretty shekel. Israel is now looking to expand the war to countries that support hamas. That endless supply of modern munitions comes at a cost.

    As i have often said, its easy to rape your country’s pockets to fight a war, its much harder to spend money improving everyone’s lot. Russia is also learning at an incredible cost. Much like maga people , russians are deliberatly kept stupid.

  12. Canguro

    Without diverting from the essence of the thread, but a note to leefe; acronyms are all well and good if they’re in common currency but I reckon there will always be a few who are blind reindeers in relation to the phrase behind the letters. What’s SOP supposed to mean. Slaughter of Palestinians?

    It was never going to be a wonderland outcome, this ‘gifting’ of a peoples’ land, Palestine, to another race, the Jews, even though the two had lived amicably and in close proximity for millennia. Dwindling remnants of the British Empire’s retired bureaucracy thought it a good idea, even though the Arabs weren’t consulted. The Jews were delighted to have the support of other countries, particularly after their European disaster during WWII, but clearly, conducting an executive takeover of other peoples’ lands was never going to end well, as the last eighty years have all too graphically shown with the brutal subjugation of the dispossessed and the inexorable slide by Israelis down the ugly slope of jackbooted management via machine guns, tanks & aerial bombardment aided by bulldozing, barbed wire barriers, illegal settlements and more, whilst all the time demonstrating their contempt and hatred of the oppressed…like a bully who hides behind the bigger kids, with the USA offering carte blanche support.

    Personally I’d like to see the whole wretched mess reach its conclusive phase; the unwinding of Israel and the return of the stolen lands to the Palestinians. Let the Israelis emigrate to America. Win-win for for all involved.

  13. New England Cocky

    @ Phil Pryor: The ZION@ZIS have stated early in this matter that the aim is ”to drive all Palestinians into the sea”. A second option is to drive all Palestinians into concentration camps in the Egyptian desert where the cost & responsibility passes to international aid agencies.
    This would allow the post conflict re-construction of the Gaza Strip funded by American and European financiers as the new location for fresh ZION@ZI colonist settlers escaping the rigors of western capitalism for the relaxed world of men reading the Torah while women do all the work.
    The IDF & their political masters do not want a ”Two State Solution” because they claim in error that a quiet deal done during WWI between a desperate English Minister and a European Banker is a legitimate basis today for GENOCIDE of the Palestinian people living in the Gaza Strip.
    @ andyfiftysix: An astute observation regarding keeping the general public ”stupid”. Sadly we see this policy currently being applied in Australian schools where thanks to Little Johnnie Howard et al over-funding of private schools our kids in state schools are suffering.
    @ Canguro: A wonderful and appropriate solution!! Send the colonists back to their own countries where they can work that political agenda to their own advantage, without the cost of war armaments gifted by US politicians spending the taxes paid by American citizens on imperialist wars for the benefit of a minor number of American corporate moguls and their shareholders.

  14. leefe

    Canguro: Standard Operational Procedure. ie, business as usual.
    Apologies for assuming it was widely known.

  15. Bob

    Bibi and the ‘poor’ Israeli govt could reach out a helping (-themselves) hand to the USA, whose govt seems to be awash with Pro-Zionist zealots willing to throw $Bs at Israel.
    Here’s an interesting chart: axios.com/2023/11/04/us-israel-aid-military-funding-chart
    “Biden requested at least $14.3 billion in additional assistance to Israel”
    The senior management of Israel & USA are like 2 peas in a toxic pod, and to mix metaphors, both slowly boiling the pot of discontent. If their end goal is to kick off another multi-country middle-east war, they appear to be on the right track.

  16. Harry Lime

    I note in a current Guardian article that Netanyahu refuses to discuss a plan for post war Gaza.I’d suggest that the criminal doesn’t have one,save keeping his own miserable arse out of prison.He’s going down,and he’s guaranteeing that Israel is going with him. The shit has only just begun to hit the fan, and the blowback is going to be felt all the way round the globe,especially in the ‘the home of the brave,land of the free’..where money,lies and hypocrisy rule, and promised submarines never materialise.

  17. GL

    Netanyahu, like Putin, has created a rough tough image and therefore can’t back down because the shame and loss of face would be a blow to his glass egos. He’s also completely beholden to the rabid right wing nationalist thugs he had to do deals with to get the power. He’s screwed in all directions and I have no sympathy in the least for him.

  18. Terence Mills

    In March The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes : will they have the courage to do the same for Netanyahu ?

  19. Ian Carter

    The IDF must be declared a terrorist organisation.

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