Lawmakers backing security funding sought to emphasize the defensive nature of the Iron Dome system, which has proven effective in intercepting missiles that would otherwise harm civilians in Israel.
“Let me repeat: This funding, as the bill’s language clearly indicates, is limited to a system that is completely defensive,” said Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairman of House Appropriations. “The legislation before us will allow Israel to fully defend all its citizens, a necessary condition for lasting peace.”
Israel views the Iron Dome as critical to its security. Terror groups like Hamas routinely fire rockets at Israel, and the Iron Dome destroys them in mid-air. The missile defense system was jointly developed by US defense contractor Raytheon Technologies and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
Over the summer, Israel found itself in a shootout with Hamas militants in Gaza firing hundreds of rockets a day at Israel, sparking a series of retaliatory attacks by the Israeli government against Hamas positions in Gaza.
Progressives in the US criticized the Israeli government for that offensive, noting that it resulted in civilian casualties. Since then, they have argued that US military aid to Israel should be conditional, as is often the case for other countries with which the US has a strategic relationship. Other Democrats have urged the US to fund humanitarian aid to Palestinians in conjunction with the Iron Dome funding.
Ahead of the House vote, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, according to a readout from the Israeli government. Gantz “thanks Secretary Austin for the continued support of the U.S. government and the Pentagon in the processes to equip Israel with the resources necessary to defend itself and its citizens.”
Paul McLeary contributed to this report.