A bipartisan group of House lawmakers are calling on the Pentagon to support the rebuilding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system after the 11-day conflict between the US ally and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The 55 legislators, led by representing Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerPictures of the Week: State of the Union, Ukraine Vigil and Batman (DN.J.), written in a Wednesday letter addressed to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security – US rules out fighter jets for Ukraine US rules out transfer of ‘high risk’ fighter jets to Ukraine Feehery: Biden’s weakness on the Ukraine invited Russian invasion MORE that the United States should”urgently continue to engage with Israel” on the administration’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s safety and security, including the replenishment of Israel’s stockpile of interceptors for the Iron missile defense system Dome and other important issues”.
The letter, first reported by Punchbowl Newsnoted that while “lives have been tragically lost” in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, “the iron dome was extremely effective overall,” intercepting “approximately 90% of incoming rockets, saving countless civilians in Israel, as well as those in Gaza.”
“Even though the attacks from Gaza have ceased, we remain alert to the threats that Israel continues to face, not only from Gaza, but also along its northern border,” the lawmakers continued.
“We must ensure that the Iron Dome remains capable of protecting Israel without running the risk of its stockpile of interceptors running out,” they added. “Israel must always have the resources it needs to defend against incoming rockets when targeted again.”
House members noted that during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, Congress implemented the Emergency Supplementary Appropriations Resolution, providing $225 million to replenish Israel’s defense system.
“Under the current US-Israeli Military Assistance Memorandum of Understanding, the United States has committed to providing $3.8 billion annually in military assistance to Israel from fiscal year 2019 through 2028, including $500 million a year for missile defense,” the lawmakers said. noted, adding that the memorandum also clarifies that the United States and Israel could agree on additional support should Israel become embroiled in a major armed conflict.
“Know that Congress supports the administration in its commitment to ensuring Israel’s security and its ability to defend against any attack,” they added.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was due to meet Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday for his counterpart’s first in-person visit to the Pentagon.
Asked Wednesday whether the two men would discuss resupplying the Iron Dome, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said he would not preempt discussions between Austin and Gantz.
“I’m certainly aware of the press reports out there about their resupply desires,” Kirby said of Israel. “The only thing I would add is. . . that we take very seriously our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military advantage and our commitment to assist the Israeli government in the self-defense of its citizens and sovereign territory.
President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes bill banning Russian oil imports and allowing sanctions White House praises new South Korean president, citing ‘ironclad’ alliance has already pledged to replenish Israel’s supply of Iron Dome rockets, though some Democrats have pushed to reassess US military aid to Israel amid allegations of human rights abuses and actions of Israel during the fighting in May.
The violence caused the death of 243 Palestinians, including 66 children, with a dozen Israelis, including two children, also killed.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamManchin has ‘positive’ meeting with Biden Supreme Court nominee The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent – Biden, Congress takes aim at Russian oil (RS.C.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is on a tour of Israel this week following the Egypt-brokered ceasefire between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas.
Graham said Tuesday after meeting with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that Israel would ask for $1 billion to rebuild its Iron Dome system.
–Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:45 p.m.