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Israel: Gaza offensive cost more than $2.5bn

Israel admits that Gaza fighters still had sizeable arsenal left as Palestinians seek UN resolution to end Israeli occupation
An Israeli military armoured personnel carrier is loaded onto a truck near the Gaza border on August 27, 2014 (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that the direct cost of the 50-day military offensive that was launched on 8 July in the Gaza Strip was more than $2.5 billion (1.9 billion euros).

"The expenditure on Operation Protective Edge - military expenditure, direct expenditure - is more than nine billion shekels," Yaalon told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.

"We attacked over 6,000 targets, more than 5,000 of them by the air force, about 900 from land and sea," he said referring to tank, artillery and naval fire.

But, despite the pounding, he acknowledged that the Gaza fighters still had a sizeable arsenal left.

"Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others - had 10,000 rounds at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge," said Yaalon.

"Today they have about a fifth of that but that's still 2,000 rounds," he said, adding that every interception of an incoming rocket by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system cost $100,000.

"From the economic point of view it's worth it, weighed against the potential damage" of a rocket strike, he said. "But it's still $100,000 for every interception."

The military says that Iron Dome brought down 600 rockets during the campaign.

The government on Sunday approved swingeing budget cuts to help pay for the campaign in Gaza.

Ministers voted to cut two percent from the 2014 budget of every government ministry - other than defence - to raise about two billion shekels.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Israel's bombardment of the narrow coastal territory, nearly 70 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

Sixty-six Israeli soldiers were killed, as well as six civilians on the Israeli side.

The war ended with an open-ended ceasefire last Tuesday and the sides are supposed to start Egyptian-mediated negotiations on a long-term truce, but a date is yet to be announced.

Palestinians seek UN resolution

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership intends to seek a UN Security Council resolution setting a three year deadline for ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, a PLO official said Tuesday.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, acknowledged at a news conference that the United States would veto such a resolution.

Nevertheless, she told reporters, "We will be seeking a Security Council resolution on ending the occupation on a specific date."

"We should know that the occupation will end within three years," she added.

She raised the possibility of also seeking passage of a similar but non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly.

Ashrawi once again also brandished a threat to take Israel before the International Criminal Court over its 50-day military offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

But she did not say when it might do so. The Palestinians were granted observer status at the court in 2012, giving them access to the court.

"We are intending to take Israel to the ICC. We do not have a timeframe, we have a program of action," she said.

Wasel Abu Yusef, a senior PLO official, said last week that the organisation was working to convene an international conference to set a timetable for ending the occupation.

But as yet, no Palestinian official has said when a formal proposal will be made to the Security Council.

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