Three months into “Operations Swords of Iron” against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and it is already shaping up to be the most expensive military campaign in Israel’s history.
The war has already cost some 217 billion shekels (around $58.5 billion), Ynet reported on Sunday. This includes both the cost of the military operations and the broad financial assistance to the economy, including compensation for businesses, paying for property damage and supporting tens of thousands of evacuees from the Gaza and Lebanon frontiers.
According to the report, the initial Order 8 emergency call-up of 360,000 reserve soldiers after the Oct. 7 massacre cost around 1 billion shekels. After the release of tens of thousands of reservists in recent days, the daily cost stands at 600 million shekels. Each reservist recruited until the end of 2024 is being paid 300 shekels ($81) per day, rising in total to about 9 billion shekels so far.
At the civil level, compensation has reached tens of billions of shekels, with the state expected to pay businesses affected by the fighting around 10 billion shekels for the first three months of the war. As of December, full compensation is no longer paid to businesses in Beersheva and Ashdod.
According to the Ynet estimates, there has been about 5 to 7 billion shekels in property damage to communities near Lebanon and about 15 to 20 billion shekels in damage to towns close to the Gaza Strip.
Additionally, there are about 125,000 evacuees from the north and the south with the cost of supporting them reaching billions of shekels. Those staying in a hotel receive 6,000 shekels ($1,600) per month per adult and 3,000 shekels ($800) per child.
This has led to a budget deficit of 111 billion shekels, which will require spending cuts and tax increases totaling 67 billion shekels.
Last month, Israel’s parliament approved a 25.9 billion shekel ($7 billion) supplementary wartime budget for 2023.
The amendment to the 484 billion shekel ($132 billion) 2023 state budget approved last May passed its final vote in the Knesset plenum with 58 lawmakers in favor and 44 opposed.
On Sunday night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi said that the war against Hamas is expected to last through 2024.
“We will be at war in Gaza, I don’t know if all year—we will be fighting in Gaza all year, that’s for sure,” Halevi said following a situational assessment with officers of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division.