August 20, 2018

Israel’s Defense Budget Set For Massive Increase

Israel’s defense budget will be gradually increased to 6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the coming years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday (15th) as he presented a document labeled “Israel’s Security Outlook 2030,” to the security cabinet.

The increase in the defense budget will total sum 0.2% to 0.3% of GDP, translating at some NIS 2-4 billion per year.  Netanyahu said the defense budget will be re-examined once Israel’s GDP hits $500 billion. At present it stands at some $350 billion.

The move marks a dramatic reversal in policy following decades in which the defense budget as a percentage of GDP has been in decline.  In 2008 Israel spent 6.5% of GDP on defense and in 1992 the figure stood at some 15%.

The increased budget will go to the IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Mossad and other security agencies, and will go toward strengthening Israel’s offensive capabilities, upgrading missile defense systems, completing security barriers, the home front and cyber capabilities.

“In view of Israel’s small size, the concentration of population and the numerous threats it faces, its defense needs will always be greater than those of countries of similar scale.  The Israeli economy is strong enough to enable these budgetary additions,” Netanyahu said.

“Over the past two decades we have developed a free [market] economy in order to serve the needs of the state, first and foremost among them security.  In the face of the threats we face, today we are at an inversion point. Today, we are required to invest more in security and defense to protect our achievements and ensure continued economic growth.  The combination of our strong defense capabilities and our strong economy will increase Israel’s equity in the eyes of other countries and increase its diplomatic prowess,” he said.



Defense Minister : Israel Prefers To See Gazans Topple Hamas Regime

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday (15th) dismissed criticism leveled at him over Israel’s attempts to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Hamas.

“My strategy is to talk directly to the Palestinian public – not with Hamas leadership,” he told Israel Hayom.

“The public in Gaza must understand that they have everything to gain from maintaining calm and everything to lose if they don’t.  Our goal is to see the public in Gaza rise up and replace the Hamas regime. We have no interest in ruling Gaza.”

According to Lieberman, toppling the Hamas regime remains one of his main objectives, but it will not come as a result of eliminating Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, as he once promised to do, rather as a result of driving a wedge between the Palestinians in Gaza and the terrorist group ruling them.

He further dismissed the criticism leveled at him by some Israeli leaders, saying that resuming the operations at the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing was a reward for Hamas.

“I took office on June 1, 2016, and instead of one Haniyeh, there are 200 dead Hamas operatives and over 40 Hamas sites that we have destroyed.  Hamas doesn’t care about human life, but they lament every infrastructure we eliminate,” he said.

The Diplomatic-Security cabinet was briefed Wednesday (15th) on the progress in the Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.



Abbas Says Hamas Not Serious About Unity, U.S. Lying About Gaza

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday (15th) said Hamas was not serious about unity talks and accused U.S. officials of lying about their intentions to aid the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Abbas made the comments in a televised speech at the start of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second-highest decision-making body, in Ramallah.

“Hamas principally does not have intentions to achieve reconciliation,” Abbas said.

The Comments came after the Egyptian Intelligence Services hosted separate talks with Fatah and Hamas officials over the past several weeks to discuss reconciliation.

Since Hamas and Fatah failed to Implement an Egyptian-sponsored unity deal, which they signed in October 2017, reconciliation efforts have been at a standstill.

Abbas has said that Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership wants to unify the West Bank and Gaza under “one government, one law and one legitimate force without militias.”

The Hamas terrorist group has been the effective sovereign inside the Gaza Strip since it ousted the Fatah-dominated and West Bank-based PA in 2007 from the territory.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, and other groups in the Gaza Strip have thousands of weapons.  Hamas officials have defended “the right” of armed groups to possess weapons and have not said they would be willing to hand them over to the PA.



UN Enabling Hamas’ War Machine – Bassam Tawil

→The current ceasefire initiative is rather disturbing: it requires no meaningful concessions on the part of Hamas.  It leaves, for example, wholly intact Hamas’ extremist ideology, which calls for the destruction of Israel, and does not demand that Hamas lay down its weapons.

→A ceasefire may sound good, but in the current circumstances it will send a deadly message to Hamas and the other terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip: namely, that a long-term terror bombardment of Israel gets you economic and humanitarian projects funded by the United Nations and Western donors, and perhaps even a seaport and airport.  The ceasefire would give Hamas five to ten years to continue amassing weapons, tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip, and preparing for its next war with Israel.

→Any ceasefire agreement will be perceived as a reward for Hamas-sponsored terrorism and violence against Israel.  These negotiations will spur other terrorist groups around the world to continue their attacks with the hopes of gaining legitimacy and forcing the UN and the international community to negotiate also with them.

→Why is the UN apparently prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the Gaza Strip while keeping Hamas in power and even allowing it to become stronger?  Why is the UN being allowed to play the role as savior of Hamas?

→Essentially, the message to Hamas from the international community is that it will reap rich rewards for nothing more than temporarily halting its terror attacks on Israel.



Israel’s Newest Doctors Hope To Make An Impact On Overburdened Medical System

As Israel’s medical system experiences shortages of doctors, nurses, beds and medical equipment, a growing number of physicians immigrating from North America could help fill the gap.

The most recent plane of new immigrants, which touched down in Israel early Wednesday morning (15th), include 27 medical professionals out of a total of 239 new Israelis.  The incoming physicians and nurses are an asset to Israel’s medical system, but they face challenges acclimating to a foreign health care system and will take a significant pay cut by making the move.

“Ultimately, I don’t know how this will play out,” said Abby Lazar, 31, a pediatrician from Philadelphia on board the flight.  “But it’s a nice thing to be able to not only live in Israel but also contribute to society there, especially to an area where there is need.”

The latest group of immigrants included 11 physicians, two nurses, five psychologists and nine paramedical professionals.

“Israel is desperate for good professionals, and American professionals are considered to be among the top,” said Ronen Foxman, Nefesh B’Nefesh’s liaison for medical licensing.  The 11 immigrant doctors on board Wednesday’s flight are likely the largest number ever on a single flight to Israel,” Foxman said.