US to assist Israel with $225m additional funds for Iron Dome components
The US Department of Defense has asked the Senate to approve $225m additional funds to accelerate the production of Iron Dome missile system components for Israel.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a letter to the Senate: "These funds would be in addition to the $176m requested in the president's financial year 2015 budget for Iron Dome and also in addition to the proposed FY 2015 Congressional increase of $175m to offset the costs of initiating Iron Dome production in the US.
"Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives.
"On behalf of the administration, I ask for your support in meeting Israel's critical missile defence needs in light of the ongoing conflict in Gaza."
The additional funding will be used to maintain adequate stockpiles for the missile system, which is claimed to have intercepted nearly one-fifth of rockets launched by Hamas militants in recent days.
Under the Iron Dome agreement signed between the US Missile Defense Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Defense in March, Israel needs to produce lron Dome components in the US.
"However, Israel assesses that it will take another two to three years to reach full production capacity in the US, which would not address Israel's current shortfall.
"I recommend that the $225m noted above be exempt from the terms and conditions of the US-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement," Hagel wrote.
The proposal for increase in funds comes at a time when heavy fighting continues between Israel and the Hamas in Gaza.
Rocket launches by Hamas on Israel are being countered by air and ground attacks by the latter. Several global airlines have banned flights to Tel Aviv to avoid rocket attacks.
More than 600 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on 8 July.
Image: Rocket launches by Hamas on Israel are being countered by air and ground attacks by the latter. Photo: courtesy of Israel Defense Forces.