US Giving Israel Extra $70M This Year
Additional money will help fund Iron Dome system
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced Thursday that the US will give Israel the extra $70 million that it asked for this year for short-range missile defense, according to the Associated Press.
The additional aid will reportedly be used for the purchase of additional Iron Dome rocket defense batteries. The US has already provided $205 million for the Iron Dome system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Panetta made the announcement after a meeting at the Pentagon with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Following the meeting, Panetta said in a statement that he told Barak of the US intention to provide additional funding for the Iron Dome program over the next three years “based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements.
“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens,” Panetta said. “This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system.”
Over the past year, the Iron Dome intercepted over 90 Katyusha and Kassam rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to the Jerusalem Post.
As of April, Israel had deployed three operating units of the system, which helped thwart Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip during a flare-up in March, Reuters reported.
According to a US Defense Department spokesman, the system intercepted more than 80 per cent of the 300 rockets and mortars fired at southern Israel.
Barak thanked the US government for its support and said that Israeli-US defense ties are now closer than ever throughout President Obama’s leadership.
“The US decision to support further enhancing Israel’s security is an important demonstration of the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel,” said Barak.