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Wednesday, April 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel hikes defense budget for secret project
as war looms

JERUSALEM — Israel has increased its defense budget for a classified project under the renewed threat of war with Hamas.


Parliament has approved another $75 million to the Defense Ministry's budget amid the fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Knesset Finance Committee approved the government request of 260 million shekel for additional funds on April 10.

"The 260 million shekel budget the Finance Ministry asked for this morning at the Finance Committee for the Defense Ministry is not an addition to the defense budget, but an implementation of government decisions approved in the past," the Defense Ministry said.

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Officials said the allocation was meant to fund a classified project, believed to include the procurement of additional Iron Dome missile and rocket defense batteries. They said the committee had delayed the Finance Ministry's request because no reason was given for the supplemental budget.

On April 12, the Israeli military said it would accelerate preparations to deploy a third Iron Dome battery, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the military hoped to station the battery by November.

The supplemental defense budget was submitted by the Finance Ministry in January and called for 700 million shekel, or $203 million. Officials said the request was linked to unrest in Egypt and the prospect that the regime in Cairo would lose control of the Sinai Peninsula.

In 2011, the Defense Ministry has been allocated $16 billion for its annual budget. The government has also agreed to provide the ministry with another $1.45 billion to complete classified programs.

The Defense Ministry has urged the government to provide funds for the protection of residents of southern Israel from Hamas and Palestinian militia rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The ministry has also urged procurement of additional fuel and munitions to battle Hamas and other forces.

"We regret the fact that while the fighting goes on in the south, Treasury personnel engage in intrigues that do not help efforts to defend residents of the south," the Defense Ministry said.

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