Israel says Gaza war cost military $2.5 billion

AFP-JIJI

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that the direct cost of the 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip was more than $2.5 billion.

“The expenditure on Operation Protective Edge — military expenditure, the direct expenditure — is more than 9 billion shekels,” Yaalon told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.

“We attacked over than 6,000 targets, more than 5,00 of them by the air force, about 900 from land and sea,” he said referring to tank, artillery and naval fire.

But, despite the pounding, he acknowledged that the Gaza militants against whom the campaign was launched on July 8 still had a sizeable arsenal left.

“The terror organizations in the Gaza Strip — Hamas Islamic Jihad and others — had 10,000 rounds at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge,” said Yaalon.

“Today they have about a fifth of that but that’s still 2,000 rounds,” he said, adding that every interception of an incoming rocket by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system cost $100,000.

The government on Sunday approved swingeing budget cuts to help pay for the campaign in Gaza.

Ministers voted to cut 2 percent from the 2014 budget of every government ministry — other than defence — to raise about two billion shekels.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s bombardment of the narrow coastal territory, nearly 70 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

Sixty-six Israeli soldiers were killed, as well as six civilians on the Israeli side, including a Thai worker and a 4-year-old boy.

The war ended with an open-ended cease-fire last Tuesday and the sides are supposed to start Egyptian-mediated negotiations on a long-term truce, but a date is yet to be announced.