U.S. Congress gives Obama okay to fund Israel rocket defense
Lawmakers voted to give Israel $205 million for its production of the short-range rocket defense system, Iron Dome defense, by 410-4 margin.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted in favor of President Barack Obama's plans to help Israel fund the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.
Lawmakers, by a 410-4 margin, backed Obama's plan to give Israel 205 million dollars for its production of a short-range rocket defense system.
The Iron Dome missile defense system aced a test run in January, and event that convinced senior defense officials that the defense system was on its way to becoming operational and that it will be able to effectively protect against short-range missiles, such as Katyushas and Qassams, which often hit Israeli towns.
The project's first phase, which included development, test runs and the manufacture of two batteries, required a budget of NIS 800 million. The Israel Air Force has also trained a special new unit to operate the defense system.
However, the plan was not allotted an adequate budget. The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman said following the vore that "with nearly every square inch of Israel at risk from rocket and missile attacks, we must ensure that our most important ally in the region has the tools to defend itself."
"The looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the persistent threat posed by Iran's allies Hamas and Hezbollah, only serve to reinforce our longstanding commitment to Israel's security," Berman added.
Israel completed tests in January on its Iron Dome system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.
Florida congressman Ted Deutch commended the "Obama Administration for
supporting the critical Iron Dome system, which could help save the lives of innocent Israelis who every day live in fear of rocket attacks on their homes, schools, and marketplaces."
"Partnering with Israel on short-range missile defense technology demonstrates America's unyielding commitment to Israel's security," Deutch added, saying that "Israel must be able to keep its citizens safe, and we must demand Palestinians end incitement and Hamas reject the use of terror."
The Obama Administration must always work to address the threats posed to Israel not only by short-range missiles, but by the looming possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC released a statement following the Congress vote, saying that the decision, that "will reduce the threat from Hamas and Hezbollah rocket attacks, is a tribute to America's commitment to Israel's defense and underscores our fundamental security cooperation with Israel, an island of democracy surrounded by a sea of hostile terrorist and totalitarian threats."
"America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel in their quest for peace and the right to live lives free of terrorism," the statement read.