A bipartisan group of House lawmakers urged the Department of Defense (DOD) to help replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system that was damaged during the 11 days of fighting in the Gaza strip.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, 55 House Republican and Democrats voiced their “ironclad commitment to Israel’s safety and security” and urged the Pentagon to immediately work with Israel and Congress to fill the request to restock the supply of interceptors for the Iron Dome.
“We ask that you continue urgently engaging with Israel on this request and that you please report to Congress regarding Israel’s needs as soon as possible,” they wrote in their letter (pdf).
The letter comes after Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in May introduced the Emergency Resupply for Iron Dome Act of 2021 (pdf), which would authorize the president to redirect U.S. foreign assistance to help Israel replenish its highly-effective missile defense interceptors.
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system, in addition to its early-warning and sheltering systems, has been credited with protecting the country’s civilian population from projectiles fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
During May’s 11 days of violence, triggered by the terrorist group Hamas, the missile defense system was crucial in intercepting about 90 percent of the 4,500 incoming rockets, the lawmakers wrote.
According to a Congressional Research Service report (pdf), the Iron Dome’s “targeting system and radar are designed to fire its Tamir interceptors only at incoming projectiles that pose threats to the area being protected (generally, strategically important sites, including population centers); it is not configured to fire on rockets headed toward unprotected areas.”
“If Israel requests additional assistance, as contemplated in the (Memorandum of Understanding) MOU, please work closely with Congress to expeditiously fulfill this request,” the lawmakers wrote.
In 2016, the U.S. and Israeli governments updated the MOU on military aid for a 10-year period, covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledged to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel.
In addition to Wednesday’s bipartisan request by the House members, many senators have also pledged to work with the Biden administration to replenish the Iron Dome system and provide funding for Israel’s defense against future terrorist attacks.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), during a trip to Israel earlier this week, called the democratic middle eastern nation one of American’s most reliable allies.
“They provide us with actionable intelligence to protect our country against radical Islamic threats, they’re a democracy, and shared values, shared enemies,” he said.
“There will be a $1 billion request coming to the Pentagon this week from the defense minister to replenish the Iron Dome and a few other things, to upgrade the system,” Graham, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said at a press conference from Israel.
“This was the largest sustained assault in maybe history and the Iron Dome performed incredibly well, saving thousands of Israeli lives and tens of thousands of Palestinian lives. So, I would imagine that the administration would say yes to this request and it would sail through Congress,” added Graham.