Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Thursday against cuts to the defense budget.
“The Middle East is changing. The great armies have been replaced by bloodthirsty terrorist groups, that are skilled and trained, and armed from head to toe not only with weapons but also with ideology that challenges the world order and the West and its culture," said Ya’alon.
Operation Protective Edge, just like the Second Lebanon War, highlighted the fact that Israel is dealing with terrorist groups that possess military characteristics, according to Ya’alon.
"Syria is falling apart on our northern border, and the Assad regime is being replaced by opposition and rebel forces who might try to challenge us someday,” he said.
“Any cuts to the defense budget, and as a result of which to the research, development and equipping, will cause the state of Israel to fall down a slope and reach places that it should not reach,” he warned.
“It is impossible to demand a trained and skilled army with first-class technological capabilities and with reservists who come ready and equipped for war, and on the other to tie its hands,” said Ya’alon.
"This is not a slogan," he clarified. "Israel needs a strong IDF that is ready for any scenario, and not an army that has been functioning for a long time without a multi-year program that is supposed to give it maximum capabilities to protect the security of Israeli citizens. We must not reach a point where in a few years we'll look back and say with regret that our failure to invest in security was irresponsible and we paid a heavy price for it.”
Earlier this week, the government ratified an across-the-board 2% cut in the budgets of all state ministries to pay for Operation Protective Edge. That cut came amid reports that the Defense Ministry was demanding an additional 20 billion shekels ($5.4 billion) to replace equipment used in the war, and to expand defense capacity in the wake of the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
That number is not final, and is likely to be increased, government sources said.