Bipartisan House lawmakers urge US to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and analyzing U.S.-Israel relationship under President Biden.
Bipartisan House lawmakers are doubling down on America's "ironclad" support for Israel in the aftermath of the deadly Gaza conflict and are urging support for more federal funds to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.
At least 50 House members, both Democrats and Republicans, wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday urging the Pentagon to quickly work with Congress on fulfilling any request to restock Israel's supply of interceptors for the Iron Dome system.
During last month's 11-day violent conflict with the terrorist group Hamas, the missile defense system was critical in intercepting about 90 % of the 4,500 incoming rockets, the lawmakers said.
"Even though the attacks from Gaza have halted, we remain clear-eyed about the threats Israel continues to face, not only from Gaza, but also along its northern border," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Austin, shared with Fox News.
"We must ensure that the Iron Dome remains able to protect Israel without running the risk that its stockpile of interceptors becomes depleted. Israel must always have the resources it needs to defend itself from incoming rockets when it is targeted again."
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz is slated to arrive in Washington this week to meet with Austin. He's expected to request additional aid of $1 billion to restock the Iron Dome, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after traveling to Isreal and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.
The lawmakers, led by Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, said they support such supplemental appropriations requests to ensure Israel's ability to defend itself from any attack.
"We write to express our strong support for the Biden Administration’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s safety and security, including replenishing Israel’s stock of interceptors for the Iron Dome missile defense system and other important matters," the lawmakers wrote to Austin. "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."
The strong showing of bipartisan support for Israel counters a growing movement among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to call out Israel for its retaliatory airstrikes that killed many Palestinians and to urge the Biden adminstration to stop sending arms to its Middle East ally. Both Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,. and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have led efforts in Congress to urge Biden to cancel the recent sale of $735 million in weapons from the U.S. to the Israel Ministry of Defense.
"The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last month during the height of the Gaza conflict.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas ended with a cease-fire agreement on May 21. In the end, the war left more than 250 dead, the vast majority Palestinians.