Kan 11 News on Tuesday night broadcast a leaked recording of Major General Aharon Haliva, who commands the IDF’s Operations Directorate – Israel’s version of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff – in which he warns Treasury Ministry staff that “Anyone who thinks that a very high quality attack like the one the Iranians carried out against Saudi oil facilities is not possible against us, too, does not belong in this business.”
Haliva explained that “all the markers are showing, for many, many reasons, starting with the superpowers – the United States and Russia – and down to aspects of local weaponry, that the year 2020 bears a negative potential for the State of Israel. This is not an intimidation, these are emerging threats.”
The leaked lecture comes against a background of the prime minister and the military’s demands for a significant increase—many billions of dollars—in Israel’s defense budget in the coming years. No one so far has challenged the veracity of the IDF needs, but these demands come after a year in which Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has been forced to reveal that he had been playing with the budget numbers to cover up a frightening deficit of about 7.5 billion shekel, close to 4% of the GDP. An additional spending of 4 billion shekel, which is roughly what the IDF is demanding (they’ll take more), could throw the country into a period of austerity.
Which is why the Finance Ministry is telling the army enhance its efficiency to save money. Mind you, the rest of the government ministries are undergoing severe budget cuts to meet the consequences of Kahlon’s crippling deficit.
The IDF has been engaged in an all-out war against the Finance Ministry. IDF Chief of Staff, Major General Aviv Kochavi, recently warned of slipping into an unwanted war in the near future due to changes in the Middle East. Speaking to reporters, Kochavi said: “On the northern and southern fronts, the situation is tense and fragile and may deteriorate into a conflict, despite the fact that our enemies are not interested in war. Israel is currently dealing with multiple theaters and enemies at the same time. In light of this, the IDF in recent months has accelerated the preparation process.”
Or, in accountantspeek: send more money.
Air Force commander Major General Amikam Norkin warned last week of the threat of cruise missiles and drones arriving from Iran. During the graduation ceremony of a course for air defense officers, Norkin said: I know that in no time at all I will meet you in the batteries, protecting the people and the land, joining the Air Force commanders’ team.”
Or, in Airforcese: war is coming soon, I pity the fool at Finance who won’t give us the money.
Israeli policy has been directed since the country’s inception on the demands of the security apparatus, and rightfully so. There are few countries in the world who simply cannot afford losing even a single conflict. This is existential stuff. But this time around the increase in military spending—which will happen, there’s no doubt about it—will come at the expense of a collapsing national health system, as some hospitals have been keeping two patients to a bed, in the hallways. Minister Kahlon’s mismanagement of the economy may not have been the only reason for the runaway deficit, but his delusional, Soviet-style housing policy really helped.
So, what does Israel need to prevent more urgently: widespread civilian casualties resulting from a devastating war, or widespread civilian casualties resulting from a collapsing health system? You be the judge.