Israel's war expenses in 2023 reached $6.59 bn

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Jerusalem, January 12 (IANS) The Israeli government's expenses for the conflict with Hamas amounted to 24.7 billion shekels ($6.59 billion) in 2023, the Finance Ministry said.

The expenses were incurred between October 7, the day when Hamas attacked Israel, and December 31, with 17 billion shekels of the amount spent on defense and the rest on civilian purposes related to the fighting, reports Xinhua news agency.

In December alone, the conflict expenses amounted to 17.2 billion shekels out of a monthly total government expenditure of 71 billion shekels.

The month's deficit stood at 33.8 billion shekels, reflecting an increase of 82.7 per cent year-on-year.

The Israeli government's annual deficit amounted to 77.5 billion shekels in 2023, or 4.2 per cent of the GDP, compared to a surplus of 9.9 billion shekels registered in 2022.

The Ministry explained that alongside the spending increase, the conflict also caused a decrease in revenue, with tax collection dropping due to reduced activities in Israel.

Israeli government revenues decreased by 6.4 per cent last year compared to 2022, while expenditures rose by 12.5 per cent year-on-year.

The Bank of Israel estimates the war will cost about $58 billion and that the economy shrank by 2 per cent in the final three months of 2023.