US Congress approves $225 mn emergency funding aid for Israel's ''Iron Dome'' missile defense system

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02 August 2014

The US Congress yesterday approved $225 million in emergency funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense system, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law, Reuters reported.

The funding was approved by a 395-8 vote yesterday by the House of Representatives, several hours after it was unanimously passed by the Senate.

The money would go to replenish Israel's Iron Dome arsenal of interceptor missiles, many of which had been used to shoot down short-range rockets fired from Gaza into populated areas of Israel in the current three-week-long conflict.

A version of the funding plan failed as Senate Republicans blocked a wider spending bill meant largely to provide money to handle the current immigration crisis at the US-Mexico border.

However, lawmakers in both chambers later reached agreements to pass the missile funding measure separately.

Los Angeles Times reported that though the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Obama would sign the legislation, several administration officials had this week praised the Iron Dome system.

Given that it was being treated as emergency spending, similar to that used by Congress to pay for wars and natural disaster relief, the $225 million could be added to the US deficit.

There was little debate on the bill as Congress cleared the measure with lawmakers preparing to leave town for the August break.

Lawmakers from both parties were highly supportive of Israel and were eager to provide the aid.

The funds had been requested by Israel and defense secretary Chuck Hagel told congressional leaders last week he supported the additional funds "in light of the ongoing conflict."

Over 2,700 Hamas rockets had been fired into Israel in recent weeks as Israel continued a ground offensive in the Palestinian enclave.

Though around 1,500 Palestinians had been killed -- most of them civilians, according to the UN, Israel had lost 63 soldiers and only three civilians thanks largely to the Iron Dome system, which intercepted rockets from Gaza.

"Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives," Hagel said in a letter to congressional leaders.

The money would be used to accelerate production of components of the Israel-based missile defense system to "maintain adequate stockpiles," according to the Pentagon.





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