כ-100 אלף חיילים (כמעט 60% מכוחות צה”ל) עוסקים בשמירה ותחזוקה של הכיבוש בגדה המערבית
To give you an idea of the bloated mess that is the IDF, veteran security correspondent Yossi Melman says (Hebrew) that 60% of the IDF active duty forces are tasked with keeping the lid on the West Bank. The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies estimates (pdf) that the active duty force consists of over 176,000 soldiers. That means that nearly 100,000 troops do nothing but maintain the Occupation in the West Bank.
The annual cost to Israel of maintaining the Occupation is $600-million per year. Using much broader terms which include related civilian costs, Israeli military economist Shir Hever estimated the cost at $9-billion. And the cumulative cost to Israel of the Occupation, according to a different Ynet article, has been $50-billion between 1967 and 2007. That averages well over $1-billion per year over that period.
These soldiers are not planning for sophisticated operations to protect Israel from foreign invaders. They’re not engaged in training with sophisticated new technology to defend Israel’s borders. They’re doing the grunt work of manning checkpoints, guarding settler enclaves in Hebron, watching as settlers beat up Palestinian children and shepherds in their fields. This is the IDF, Israel’s proud people’s army. The army that upholds the purity of arms. The most ethical army in the world.
Another fact to consider: in 2004 a security publication estimated the IDF had an active duty force of 125,000. That means that in the decade between 2004 and 2014, the IDF grew by a factor of 50,000! That’s a 40% increase. Tell me what possible justification can there be in such an increase? What new threats arose in that period which didn’t exist in 2004? Syria, perhaps. But the force now devoted to protecting the northern border is minuscule compared to that which browbeats Palestinians on a daily basis to maintain the Occupation.
Melman also notes that the IDF operation to detect and destroy Hamas tunnels has cost $300-million.
The IDF is now truly an army of Occupation. It is not a fighting force. Not a people’s army. It’s sole goal is to subdue a captive people. Israel is without doubt, a latter-day Sparta: a garrison state.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.