Barak: U.S. Aid Significantly Bolsters Israel's Missile-defense Capabilities

Defense Minister's comment comes after U.S. House passes budget including $205 million intended for developing Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak welcomed Friday a decision by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a budget which includes $205 million intended for continuing development of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Barak said the decision is a "significant reinforcement of Israel's defense capabilities against missiles."

iron dome - AP - April 10 2011

The U.S. Congress also voted to continue aiding Israel to fund defense projects such as Arrow 2, Arrow 3, and Magic Wand. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the budget on Friday evening.

Earlier this month, the Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted for the first time a Grad rocket fired at Israel from Gaza. The achievement marked the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted.

The Israeli-developed system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch.

Last weekend, Israel-Gaza violence heavily escalated when Gaza militants launched a rocket at an Israeli school bus, which left a teenager critically wounded.

Moreover, southern Israel suffered a heavy barrage of rocket and mortar fire for several days, as IDF forces launched strikes in Gaza which left 19 Hamas militants and two civilians dead.

Last weekend's escalation was followed by five days of relative calm when two rockets hit the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on Friday, in a move which may spark further violence.