A deliberation between high level officials in Israel's defense establishment last week estimated the cost of the IDF aid and assistance mission to the Philippines at approximately NIS 20 million ($5.7 million).
Sources told Ynet the figure was a first estimate and that the actual costs might rise according to the length of the delegation's stay on the Philippine island of Cebu.
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The Israeli teams are expected to continue their aid activities on site for the next two weeks, though – based on the historical experience of previous missions – it is likely they will extend their stay up to a month.
Defense ministry spokespeople and the IDF Spokesperson's Unit refused to provide a breakdown of the delegation's costs, but according to a source involved in the details, a respectable portion of the budget, up a few million shekels, is apportioned to the two special planes leased for the mission.
One plane is a passenger carrier for the 148 members of the team, mostly IDF soldiers and officers. The second plane is a cargo transport that carried the necessary medical equipment for setting up a field hospital: Troves of medicines, water desalinization units, food, and potable water.
The delegation also brought maintenance and plumbing equipment to assist in rehabilitating vital public buildings like schools, which lost water and electricity in the wake of the typhoon.
Another financial consideration for the mission was pay for reservists, which make up the majority of the delegation – including doctors – who were called up to provide their expertise.
On Tuesday, IDF soldiers returned to a school which they helped rehabilitate for its re-opening. The soldiers were warmly received by both teachers and students.
The number of lethal casualties attributed to Hayian currently stands at 3,633, though the UN estimates the figure will rise to approximately 4,500: Almost half were killed in the city of Tacloban.
The commander of the field hospital, Col. Dr. Dudu Dagan, explained that the Israeli teams will begin training Filipino nurses on coping with the spread of infectious diseases.
He noted that the majority of the patients were not directly hit by the storm, but because of the overwhelming lack of medical services the Israeli field hospital is currently the only provider of medical care. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated that "at the IDF, we see these types of activities as a moral obligation."
Representatives of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit joined the mission, as have a minimal number of officials from the defense ministry, foreign ministry, and homefront command. One proposal suggested that the costs of the delegation will be split by the prime minister's office and the aforementioned agencies, in an effort to reduce the financial burden on the IDF.
In comparison, the 240-person relief mission to post-quake Haiti in 2010 cost 40 million NIS ($11.3 million) in total.
The Israeli aid delegation to the Philippines left, coincidentally, on the same day Israeli simulated the reception of international assistance in a training exercise called "Ends of the Earth."
According to common custom, representatives of Belgium, German, Austria, and the US had arrived in Israel on their governments' dime.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report