Tel Aviv- The Israeli finance ministry has said that the annual combined budget for the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad espionage agency will be 8.6 billion shekels ($2.4 billion) in 2018, double what the two intelligence entities received 12 years ago.
A ministry report said that the 2018 budget is 10 percent more than this year’s budget of 7.8 billion shekels. In 2016, the combined funding for the two agencies was 7.5 billion shekels.
The budget figures don’t include the cost of pensions for staff who have retired from both the Shin Bet and Mossad, which amounts to approximately a billion shekels a year.
The figures have grown considerably since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009. When Ehud Olmert was prime minister in 2006, the budget had reached 4.3 billion shekels. It later began to increase gradually.
When Netanyahu came to power in 2009, the budget of both agencies stood at 5.24 billion shekels.
The current head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, enjoys Netanyahu’s complete trust, allowing him to expand the Mossad’s operations.
There are also visible signs of the physical expansion of the Mossad headquarters north of Tel Aviv to accommodate new staff.
Most of the growth in personnel at the two agencies has been for staff dealing with technology.