Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday that the direct cost of the 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip amounted to more than $2.5 billion (1.9 billion euros).
“The expenditure on Operation Protective Edge — military expenditure, the direct expenditure — is more than nine billion shekels,” Ya’alon said during an economic conference in Tel Aviv.
“We attacked over 6,000 targets, more than 5,000 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 terrorists against whom the campaign was launched on July 8 still had a sizable 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 Ya’alon.
“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.
“From an economic point of view it’s worth it, weighed against the potential damage” of a rocket strike, he said. “But it’s still $100,000 for every interception.”
The military says that Iron Dome brought down 600 rockets during the campaign.
The government on Sunday approved drastic budget cuts to help pay for the campaign in Gaza.
Ministers voted to cut two percent from the 2014 budget of every government ministry — other than defense — 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 which bases its figures on information provided by officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. According to Israel, at least half are gunmen from Hamas and other terror groups.
Sixty-six Israeli soldiers were killed, as well as six civilians on the Israeli side, including a Thai worker and a four-year-old boy.
The war ended with an open-ended ceasefire last Tuesday and the sides are set to start Egyptian-mediated negotiations on a long-term truce, but a date is yet to be announced.