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Iran Press TV

Budget crisis prompts Israeli military to cut $1.9 bn in costs

Iran Press TV

Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:51PM

A massive budget deficit in Israel has forced its military to slash USD 1.9 billion in spending through a series of cuts and a reorganization of its forces.

The military on Wednesday unveiled a series of proposed cuts and reorganizations that would lay off 3,000-5,000 career soldiers by 2018, retire old military equipment such as Patton tanks and M109 artillery cannons, and shut several air squadrons and naval units .

Army representatives and the Israeli parliament’s defense budget committee are to convene in the Knesset for a major hearing on July 21, prior to the final voting deadline on the national budget on July 31.

The Chief of General Staff of the Israeli military, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, said the army’s plan, which also includes the construction of a new division at Syria’s occupied Golan Heights, would see seven billion shekels (some USD 1.9 billion) cut over the coming five years.

Israel’s 2013 budget, which passed a first vote in the Knesset in May, calls for peeling the military budget by three billion shekels (some USD 820 million), down to 58.4 billion shekels (USD 16.148 billion).

The Israeli military has come under fire over a recent purchase of a sixth Dolphin-class submarines, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, for a base fee of USD 500 million.

The army also drew criticism after it indicated it may seek three squadrons of the US-made F-35 fighter jets at roughly USD 150 million per unit. The purchase, along with all of the additional costs of outfitting and maintaining the new planes, could cost Israeli taxpayers up to USD 15 billion.

Discontented Israelis have been staging mass demos in Tel Aviv and other cities to protest against the regime's economic plans and the painful austerity measures.

The planned raise in income, value-added taxes, and cut in welfare benefits come as Israelis, according to the International Monetary Fund, are struggling with high rates of poverty.

MRS/SS/HMV



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