(March 25, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned on Sunday that the homefront in Israel’s north, which borders Syria and Lebanon, was ill-prepared for a potential war.
“We invested 37 times more in preparing [Gaza adjacent towns of] the envelope than in preparing the north,” he said at a conference hosted by the Israeli website Ynet in Jerusalem.
“The readiness of the homefront in the Gaza border area is at its best, but the situation is less pleasing in the north,” Lieberman explained, referring to the fact that while NIS 1.7 billion ($490 million) has been invested in reinforcing structures and protecting the south from potential attacks, only NIS 236 million ($67.7 million) has been similarly invested in the north.
“Words are not enough,” he added. “There are some 46,000 residents in the Gaza envelope, and the State of Israel has invested 37,000 shekels [$11,000] per resident there. In the north, it’s backward. If we compare the strip of land in the north, it is 900 kilometers and some 244,000 residents. There, we invested only 970 shekels [$280] per resident.”
Lieberman said that in order to sufficiently protect the north, a five-year plan must be formulated. “It will require a minimum investment of a billion shekels per year,” he said. “I am not pointing any fingers; this is the reality. The entire cabinet bears responsibility.”
The defense minister also touched on recent concerns over what Hamas has billed as a million-strong march this coming Friday at the border fence between Israel and Gaza.
“Our advice to everyone is not to panic,” he said. “Everything can be handled with composure. We are prepared for every eventuality, and we are boosting our presence.”