Israel is spending roughly 100,000 shekels ($27,000) a month to secure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s younger son, Avner, while he travels through Australia and New Zealand.
In December 2017, after being discharged from the Israel Defense Forces, where he served in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, Avner Netanyahu set out for Australia and New Zealand. When the family dog, Kaya, fell ill only few weeks later, the younger Netanyahu returned home to care for her. But six months later, in July, he returned to Australia to resume the trip and plans to spend eight months in the region.
Early last month the Walla news site reported that the Prime Minister’s Office had approved an additional six million shekels (1,618,320 dollars) for the ministry’s personal protection budget in order to fund the security outlays for former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, and to finance the guards that were securing Avner Netanyahu on his trip. This is not the type of security detail that the Shin Bet security service, which is responsible for safeguarding the prime minister’s family, is used to providing and it has been a complicated and expensive operation.
Netanyahu’s children are the first to ever to be accompanied by bodyguards paid for by the state.
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From a purely economic perspective, the most efficient way to provide this security would have been to send two security men to accompany Avner Netanyahu during his entire trip, but this model proved to be unworkable. It was problematic from an operational perspective, since personal security guards must remain totally alert to what’s going on around them at all times and would likely get burned out over a long trip. Moreover, security people would be unwilling to be sent out of the country for a lengthy period of unknown duration.
As a result, the Shin Bet decided on a more complex arrangement that has Avner’s security guards replaced every two weeks. Sometimes the guards are flown from Israel, and sometimes they are provided by the Israeli Embassy in Australia. The costs of flights to and from the other end of the world, as well as the security detail’s food, accommodations and insurance, are paid for by the state.
When TheMarker asked the Shin Bet for information about the cost of securing Avner Netanyahu’s trip, it was referred to the Prime Minister’s Office. The security department in the Prime Minister’s Office said, “Security arrangements for the prime minister’s family are determined solely by security officials. Understandably, we cannot comment on the security policy and arrangements for those under protection.”
Lacking hard data, one can only make a rough estimate of how much this security is costing. Calculating the cost of flights and accommodations one comes to a sum of around 40,000 shekels a month. Adding the security guards’ salaries and insurance, one arrives at roughly 100,000 shekels a month.
It should be noted that if Avner Netanyahu were in Israel the state would be spending money on his security in any case. However, the sums wouldn’t come close to what needs to be spent abroad, since his security in Israel would be part of the family’s overall security arrangements.
Meanwhile, Sara Netanyahu is meant to be traveling to Australia in a few weeks to meet up with her son as he finishes his trip. This will increase the family security outlay even further.