Israel Spends NIS 30m to Protect 'Frontline’ Towns Not in Danger

New plan will reduce the number of communities defined as 'frontline' from 345 to 260 and spending on them will be reduced.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel spends NIS 30 million a year to protect communities that are not in danger of mortar fire or terrorist attack, Haaretz has learned.

The defense establishment intends to reclassify more than 600 communities on the basis of their security needs. The new criteria will reduce the number of current "frontline" communities from 345 to 260.

"Some places need protection and don't receive it, while others that don't need it do receive it," a senior Home Front Command source told Haaretz. Some communities receive protection funds for "political reasons," rather than military ones, the source said.

The defense establishment allocates an annual NIS 138 million to protect communities that are in danger of mortar fire or terrorist attack. The money pays for security coordinators, fences, lighting, and helmets and bullet-proof vests for the soldiers protecting the communities.

Figures submitted to the Defense Ministry in recent months show the security coordinators' wages are estimated at some NIS 38 million. Some NIS 70 million are spent on maintaining the security measures and NIS 30 million are spent on buying more security measures for new communities or extensions of existing ones.

Over the years dozens of communities have been added to the 600 that receive this funding from the state, although they are not in danger of mortar fire or a terrorist attack, the officer said.

In order to bypass the Home Front Command's criteria for defense funding, some communities ask the Israel Defense Forces brigade commanders in charge of their area for the money, he said. This is how several communities finance security measures for industrial areas in West Bank settlements, he said.

"Every community that is threatened by terrorists is entitled to protection from the IDF, and every community threatened by criminals is entitled to police protection," he said.

The communities of Omer, Mishmar Hanegev, Nevatim, Nof Eilon, the Segev communities, Kfar Hanassi, Ramat Hakovesh and others are not in danger of a terrorist attack, yet receive funding from the defense establishment, he said.

In certain places the defense establishment funds protection for communities outside the military boundaries of the brigades in charge of their area. Some communities receive funding for security from both the police and the IDF. For example, the police allocated funding for security guards in 18 communities classified by the Home Front Command as hinterland communities, but did not allocate guards for 73 communities the command deemed eligible for protection.

All the Home Front Command's attempts to classify Israel's communities so far have failed, mainly due to the objections of the heads of local authorities and regional councils. Some regional councils suggested "shutting down" their communities in protest of proposed financial cuts.

The command's latest plan, which is expected to be approved by the Defense Ministry soon, calls for dividing the communities eligible for security funds into four categories. The first category, "frontline communities," will be eligible for maximum protection. It consists of communities in the West Bank, Jordan Valley and communities located up to four kilometers from an international border.

These criteria will reduce the number of "frontline communities" from 345 to 260.

Communities located 4-7 kilometers from southern borders and 4-9 kilometers from northern borders will be classified as "fence adjacent" and communities up to 2 kilometers from the Green Line will be classified as "seam adjacent." These will receive less funding. For example, they will not receive funding for protecting the security coordinators' vehicles.

The funding for communities that are not under threat will be stopped at the beginning of next year and in the two following years the Border Police and IDF will regulate their activity to prevent duplication, it was learned.

Barrier in the Jordan Valley, which will continue to receive maximum protection.Credit: Nir Kafri

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