Israel approves $7 billion addition to wartime budget

Parliament agreed national budget increase on Thursday to help cover costs of the Gaza war

Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border in southern Israel on Thursday. Getty Images
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Israel's parliament on Thursday approved adding an additional 25.9 billion shekels ($7 billion) to the national budget to help cover costs of the Gaza war.

The additional funding will pay costs such as compensation for military reservists and emergency housing for the internally displaced.

The amendment, ratified by a vote of 59 in favour and 45 opposed, increased the 2023 budget to 510 billion shekels ($139 billion), a Knesset spokesperson said. Israel passed the original 2023 budget along with a 2024 budget in May.

Israel's air and ground assault, launched in response to Hamas's attack into southern Israel on October 7, has killed more than 18,600 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.

Its latest count did not specify how many of those killed were women and children, but they have made up about two thirds of the dead in previous tallies. Thousands more are missing and feared dead beneath the rubble.

Nearly 1.9 million Palestinians have been driven from their homes, with most seeking refuge in the south, even as Israel has continued to strike what it says are militant targets in all parts of the territory, often killing women and children.

The coastal strip is now facing a public health disaster after the collapse of its health system and the spread of disease, the UN humanitarian office said.

"We've got a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster," said Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 1:24 PM