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8 Jan, 2019 15:01

Price of travel: Israel spends $27,000 per month to keep Netanyahu’s son safe on Australia trip

Price of travel: Israel spends $27,000 per month to keep Netanyahu’s son safe on Australia trip

Israel is doling out roughly $27,000 every month to keep Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Avner safe while he travels around Australia and New Zealand — and Israeli taxpayers are footing the bill.

The Israeli Walla news site reported in December that six million shekels (about $1.6 million) had been approved to fund security for former prime ministers, but also to pay security guards to watch over Netanyahu’s son, who was discharged from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2017 and decided to travel to Australia and New Zealand.

Keeping the 24-year-old safe on his youthful adventures is proving to be an expensive and complicated affair. Given that he plans to spend about eight months in the region. Avner’s two-person detail needs to constantly be replaced since guards would likely be unwilling to leave the country for such a long time, and more importantly because no two guards could remain consistently alert and on top of their game for months on end.

To solve the dilemma, the Shin Bet security agency, which provides protection for the prime minister’s family, decided that his security guards would be replaced every two weeks. Guards are either flown in from Israel or are provided by the Israeli embassy in Australia directly. The cost of their flights, as well as their food, accomodation and insurance are costing Israeli taxpayers a pretty penny.

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But the precise costs can only be estimated since the Shin Bet agency isn’t willing to disclose all the specifics and told TheMarker newspaper that they “cannot comment on the security policy and arrangements for those under protection.”

Media reports have suggested that the security costs — including the cost of flights, accommodations and other living expenses for the guards — amount to the tune of 100,000 shekels (roughly $27,000) per month. The cost is set to increase when Netanyahu’s wife Sara travels to Australia in a few weeks to visit her son.

It is the first time that children of an Israeli prime minister have had bodyguards paid for by the state.

Netanyahu’s family affairs have raised eyebrows in the past. Last year, the prime minister’s older son Yair was embroiled in a salacious scandal involving secretly recorded conversations in which he discussed shelling out money for strippers and asked his friend to “spot him” some money because the elder Netanyahu had secured an “awesome” gas deal to help out the friend’s father.

In December, the scandal-ridden Yair was in trouble again over a Facebook post in which he said that there would be no peace in Israel until either all Jews or all Muslim left and that he would “prefer” if all Muslims would leave.

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