Military know-how gleaned from Gaza war to help Israeli business, says minister

Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat attends an interview with Reuters at the 13th WTO ministerial conference, in Abu Dhabi
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

By Emma Farge

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza will help Israel's economy rebound after the war, partly because its fresh experience of warfare is set to boost military technology sales, its economy minister said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, Israel's Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat said the war's domestic impact on Israel was "not something Israel cannot bear mid to long term".

He estimated the total cost at 150-200 billion shekels, or roughly $50 billion, regardless of the war's duration.

"You should always realise in the wars Israel had we had a dip in the economy but immediately after we had a huge spike back of innovation. And the knowledge and the experience Israel is gathering in this round of violence is second to none," said Barkat, who is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and widely seen as his potential successor.

Israel's Gaza assault, triggered by Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel, has killed nearly 30,000 people in Gaza, Palestinian authorities say. Some 1,200 people died in Hamas' attacks on Israel, according to Israeli tallies, and 253 people were taken hostage, of whom a portion remain in captivity in Gaza.

Barkat said Israel had held a lot of meetings during the four-day WTO meeting about what he called Israel's "competitive advantage", referring to its high-tech economy and significant number of entrepreneurs across various sectors.

One of those sectors is homeland security.

"Especially after this war I think we are probably going to be leading many, many initiatives on what next-generation warfare is going to look like," said Barkat.

Asked if those interested included Arab countries, whose relations with Israel have been strained by Israel's more than four-month war against militant Islamist group Hamas, he said there was high interest from around the world.

"Anybody who thinks [they are] threatened by the regime of Iran or threatened then they tap us to better understand what we’ve learned and what [the]solutions, what [the] security challenges are. And we are way ahead of everyone."

According to an initial estimate by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, its $500 billion economy contracted an annual 19.4% in the fourth quarter from the prior three months.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)