Defense Ministry: NIS 40 million spent on countering Gaza border riots in 2018
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Defense Ministry: NIS 40 million spent on countering Gaza border riots in 2018

Additional funds spent on less-lethal weaponry and drones; Israel purchases NIS 45 billion worth of domestically produced military equipment

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An IDF operator holds up his drone and remote control on June 7, 2018, in a field burned by 'fire kites' from the Gaza Strip. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
An IDF operator holds up his drone and remote control on June 7, 2018, in a field burned by 'fire kites' from the Gaza Strip. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

The Israeli military in 2018 spent an additional NIS 40 million ($10.9 million) in expenses related to the riots and protests along the Gaza border, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

On March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launched weekly “Great March of Return” protests along the border, which regularly devolved into violent clashes with Israeli troops and the launching of airborne incendiary devices into southern Israel.

Revealing spending figures from last year, the ministry said the NIS 40 million was a special fund separate from the military’s annual budget. It does not include compensation payments to residents of the area around Gaza whose farmlands were burned in arson attacks by Palestinians from the enclave.

According to the ministry, most of the additional funds were spent on riot control weapons and drones, which were used extensively in response to the regular border protests and clashes.

In an effort to counter the at times constant flow of incendiary devices and explosives being flown into Israel on kites and helium balloons from the Gaza Strip, the government handed over millions of shekels to defense contractors, both state-controlled and private, to varying degrees of success.

In addition, the Defense Ministry said it spent NIS 45 billion ($12.23 billion) on Israeli-made weapons and materiel. Of that, NIS 11.6 billion ($3.15 billion) was paid to Israel Aerospace Industries, the ministry said.

The plurality of the ministry’s purchases were for the IDF Ground Forces, the army said.

“The past year was significant in terms of equipping and arming the IDF, specifically in strengthening the Ground Forces, which accounted for 40 percent of the activities of the Purchasing Department,” said Aviv Dadon, director of the department.

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