Daily Israel Report

Brodet Committee: Millions Wasted on Separation Fence

The much-touted separation fence has cost the nation billions of shekels, but has saved nothing, according to the Brodet Report.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/4/2007, 12:37 PM

Countless Jews and Arabs in Israel have spent years fighting the separation barrier that inexorably crept across the country, ostensibly to block terrorists from murdering Israeli citizens.

Now a report by a government-appointed committee led by former Director-General of the Ministry of Finance David Brodet, has slammed the project that was begun by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In a speech on February 21, 2002, then PM Sharon assured the nation that the barrier would “enhance the security of the citizens of Israel,” by creating a “security separation.”

Stage One, a one-year project which began in June 2002, was to have cost NIS 400 million ($80 million), with a planned route that was to extend 110 kilometers (66 miles), from the Megiddo Junction near Jenin, to the Trans-Samaria Highway.

Five years and billions of shekels later, a wiser nation was not surprised to learn from the committee that the pros and cons of a separation barrier were never discussed in a serious way.

The committee was ordered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and two cabinet ministers last November to assess the defense budget after the IDF requested a huge increase to offset the costs of the Second Lebanon War.

Accusations of fiscal mismanagement by the IDF prompted the government to ask the Brodet Committee to make recommendations “regarding the budget’s desired size and composition, in both the short and long terms, including the resultant security response.”

The committee’s report, released this week, slammed the IDF, which it said “saw itself as a subcontractor following orders to build a fence without clarifying for itself the significance of the expenditure and the price of maintaining it, which will reach hundreds of millions of shekels a year.”

Moreover, said the report, “We had the impression that no comprehensive discussion was held in the Prime Minister’s Office or in the Finance Ministry, in addition to the discussions held by the IDF.

“The cost-benefit ratio of the changes in the route of the fence, at a cost of billions of shekels, were never analyzed,” added the committee.

The report also condemned the IDF’s “excessive” use of aerial bombing and artillery fire in the Second Lebanon War which was "costly and ineffective."

Ultimately, said the committee, precious resources have been wasted and little accomplished, because “There was no one in the IDF or the government whose job was to analyze the question and order a change.”