Government agrees to NIS 181 million emergency boost for police as terror swells
Bennett: ‘Strong police equals a strong State of Israel’; funding will go to more equipment, recruiting reservists, establishing new Border Police reserve brigade
Israel will dole out millions of shekels in emergency funding for police in hopes of bolstering attempts to quash a wave of terror striking the country, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said Thursday.
The NIS 181 million ($56.6 million) will go to the immediate recruitment of 200 Border Police non-commissioned officers, the establishment of a reserve Border Police company, as well as the procurement of 6,500 bulletproof vests, 4,000 helmets, and 40 motorcycles, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The funding will also go towards bolstering the police’s volunteer apparatus.
“Strong police equals a strong State of Israel. We are working with all tools and in all areas to restore security, and a sense of security to the citizens of Israel,” Bennett said in the statement.
The PMO said NIS 111 million ($35 million) will be transferred immediately, and the rest by the end of August.
The funding is less than what Public Security Minister Omer Barlev had reportedly requested during a meeting of senior ministers on the terror wave Wednesday.
According to the Walla news site, Barlev said police needed NIS 250 million ($78 million) in emergency funding for the police.
“We [the police] are showered with sympathies, but the cabinet needs to make a decision — either we do this, or we don’t,” Barlev was quoted as saying.
Nonetheless, he hailed the extra infusion Thursday, saying it was an “unprecedented milestone,” and a show of trust in the police.
“This is truly good news for increasing citizens’ personal security,” Barlev said in the statement.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai called it “an important and significant budget and resource increase at this time, in which Israeli police officers are physically protecting Israeli citizens from terrorism with an unprecedented deployment throughout the country.”
The emergency funding joins the deployment of 1,000 soldiers to reinforce the police, which was ordered by Defense Minister Benny Gantz Wednesday.
“We are taking offensive and defensive actions,” Gantz said at a press conference following a security assessment with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs.
“I’ve ordered [the defense establishment] to aid Israeli police in the form of equipment, manpower, and additional personnel,” Gantz said.
“If necessary, we will recruit thousands of reservists who will flood the streets and operate wherever operational activity is required,” Gantz added. Israel rarely calls up reservists, except for training purposes.
“Whatever it takes, we will break this wave of terror. We will bring back peace and stability in a forceful, smart, and responsible manner,” he said.
Security officials are scrambling to respond after a wave of terror attacks in the past week, including a shooting on Tuesday in Bnei Brak that killed five people. The Palestinian gunman was killed by police at the scene.
On Sunday, two Border Police officers were killed in a shooting attack in Hadera. The Arab Israeli gunmen were affiliated with the Islamic State jihadist group.
Five days earlier, four people were killed in a terror attack in the southern city of Beersheba. The terrorist — previously convicted of attempting to join IS — was shot dead by passersby. He was also an Israeli citizen.
At least 12 Palestinians have been killed in violent confrontations with Israeli troops in recent weeks. Some died in gun battles with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, others during attempted attacks.