Liberman accuses Finance Ministry of blocking funds to buffer North from threats
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accused the Finance Ministry on Tuesday of stalling the funding of a 2014 government decision to increase protection for the home front, especially northern communities.
“The fortification of the home front in the North is severely lacking compared to southern Israel, but in the South we also face many budgetary difficulties in erecting the new [security] barrier,” Liberman said Tuesday during a meeting in Haifa with local officials and representatives from the Home Front Command, Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry and others.
“We are dealing with a matter that is ‘net life,’” the defense minister said, urging the local authorities to demand that the government implement decisions taken in 2014 to allocate NIS 150 million annually for 10 years to close the protection gaps throughout the country.
“The implementation of the government’s decision, especially in the North, must receive substantial reinforcement on the issue of protecting the home front,” he added.
Although Liberman said the Home Front Command and National Emergency Authority, together with mayors and government ministries, have made “a major leap forward in emergency preparedness and in the field of protection,” he said the Finance Ministry has been stalling its funding.
“For me, the most disappointing thing is that the government is not implementing decisions it has made. Since the decision was made, the Finance Ministry has been torpedoing its funding for unclear reasons despite the clear need to strengthen the North and despite the fact that detailed plans have been completed,” he said.
The border area with Lebanon has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltrations and has seen nine infiltrations since 2009, including one in April when a man was able to cross into Israel from Lebanon and walked to the Kiryat Shmona central bus station, about 10 kilometers from the border fence.
The IDF believes the next war with Hezbollah will see the terrorist group try to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
The border fence with Lebanon has been upgraded several times since it was originally built in the 1980s, including in October when a 29-kilometer stretch was upgraded with engineered barriers, including several-feet-high reinforced concrete panels, concrete blocks and fortified watchtowers. The IDF also has created obstacles such as a man-made cliff to help prevent attacks by Hezbollah.
Along with a new six-meter-high steel and barbed wire “smart fence” that stretches several kilometers with information collection centers and warning systems being built along two stretches of the Lebanese border, new fortified shelters, including bus stops, have been constructed along the Lebanese and Syrian borders.
SENIOR ISRAELIS warm up for a running session in Tel Aviv in 2015.