Oct. 7 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a significant increase in the country’s defense budget, citing a growing threat from Iran.
His comments came in response to an Iranian attack, using drones and cruise missiles, on two oil refineries in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, and a recent Israeli attack on Albukamal at the Iraq-Syria border, where Iran is building a military base. The town is regarded as an important part of the route between Iran and Syria, through which the Lebanese paramilitary force Hezbollah receives weapons from Iran.
Netanyahu, in the process of forming a new government, said last week that Israel must raise its defense spending by “many billions immediately and then many billions every year” since a threat from Iran “has intensified in recent weeks.”
“We are facing an enormous security challenge that is growing and worsening from week to week,” he added. “This is not spin and not a whim. This is not Netanyahu who is trying to scare us.”
He did not specify a dollar amount or the type of weapons, offensive or protective, he seeks to obtain.
At last week’s opening of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, President Reuven Rivlin noted the accelerating security risks and called for a quick resolution to forming a coalition government. He suggested that the Israeli military has called for an immediate supplement to its defense budget, but approval has been slowed by the internal political issue.