Budgeting Resilience Centers: Professional Decisions or Political Pressures?

Photo: IDF spokesman

What led the government to allocate additional funds exclusively to resilience centers in the West Bank, despite data suggesting a higher demand for strengthening resilience centers in the south due to an increased number of traumatic stress victims?

In August 2022, the former government budgeted NIS 26M for all 14 resilience centers in the country. This centers are in charge of, among other things, offering immediate mental health services to victims of anxiety emanating from security incidences. In May 2023, the current government decided (as part of the coalition agreements) to add NIS 6M to the resilience centers in the West Bank exclusively. Thereby, the funds allotted to the four centers in the West Bank rose from 17% to 32% of the total resilience centers’ budget.

Why did the government choose to exclusively increase funding for centers in the West Bank instead of implementing a comprehensive cross-border increase or reinforcing centers in the Gaza Envelope and the north? The government did not present any data, and there were no assertions made about the distinct needs of resilience centers in the West Bank in both the 2021 State Comptroller report and discussions within Knesset committees on national resilience. Aside from discussions about the overall shortage in public mental health services, the report and discussions emphasized the challenges of traumatic stress victims in the communities of the Gaza Envelope and the northern regions.

Data on the number of treatments provided to traumatic stress victims in various resilience centers from 2017 to 2020 highlight the disproportionate funding allocated to the West Bank centers in comparison to those in the southern regions. This discrepancy existed even prior to the exclusive increase in funding for these centers as outlined in the coalition agreements.

Either way, in light of the horrific attack of October 7th on the southern communities and the current attacks on the northern localities, the government should rethink its decision to prioritize the West Bank centers.

The report received significant media attention. Dr. Yuval Livnat, who wrote the report said in one of the interviews: “the government must make sure that mental health services are provided to traumatic stress victims, wherever they are. It is imperative that the government explains its decision to increase allotment exclusively to the centers in West Bank. The budgets for treatment of trauma victims, must be allocated professionally and in a just manner without any political or sectorial considerations“.