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Israel thanks US after House approves $1bn Iron Dome funding

Israel’s Iron Dome system (L) intercepts rockets fired toward the Israeli-occupied territories from the Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

Israel has thanked the United States after the US House of Representatives approved an additional $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, ahead of the first anniversary of the regime’s brutal war against Gaza that killed 66 children.

The supplemental Iron Dome funding was approved on Wednesday, following months of delay due to domestic political disputes over the issue.

The funding, folded into the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package, also included $3.8 billion in annual military aid for Israel in line with a Memorandum of Understanding signed by former president Barack Obama in 2015.

The bill also included the Israel Normalization Act, which aims to promote the so-called Abraham Accords that Israel has signed with a number of Arab countries, which Palestinians have slammed as traitors.

“Thank you to the US Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security & for passing the critical security package,” Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett wrote in a tweet on Thursday.

"Thank you @POTUS for your leadership & friendship,” Naftali said, referring to US President Joe Biden.

Israeli minister of military affairs Benny Gantz also thanked Biden and House majority leader Steny Hoyer for helping Israel maintain its “military superiority in the region.”

“The strategic connection between us and the US, which is based on an alliance of interests and values, is crucial for Israel’s security and for maintaining its military superiority in the region, and we will do everything to strengthen and safeguard it,” Gantz said.

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said the support that Tel Aviv received in the US House of Representatives is “testimony to the strategic relationship between Israel and the US.”

“Thank you for the $1 billion of aid for the Iron Dome system and for the commitment to Israel’s security over the years,” Lapid tweeted.

AIPAC tweeted, “A strong Israel makes America more secure. This critical assistance helps ensure our ally has the resources needed to defend itself against growing threats. Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives and helps prevent war."

Critics, however, say that funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system amounts to funding for a “brutal occupation.”

“Why are US taxpayers still subsidizing the region’s … only nuclear power?” Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, wrote in a tweet.

“What happened to Israel ‘defending itself by itself’?” he asked.

In an article published last September, Elgindy also debunked the claim that the Iron Dome had saved Palestinian lives, saying “while Iron Dome may have saved Israeli lives, there is no evidence that it has done anything to save Palestinian lives or minimize the scale of destruction on the Palestinian side — and it may actually have done the opposite.”

The funding for Israel’s Iron Dome had been faced strong opposition from progressive House Democrats, who cited Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians to object to the provision of $1 billion in Iron Dome funding in the government funding bill.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action, a progressive activist organization, said at the time that “it is long past time for the US to end the bloated blank check that funds and enables Israel’s human rights abuses.”

Republican Senator Rand Paul has blocked four requests by Democrats to pass the legislation in the Senate, insisting it “should be paid for” and reallocated from proposed US assistance to Afghanistan.

Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have in the past denounced the US funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, citing the regime’s continued aggression against Palestinians.

The United States began financially supporting Israel’s development of the Iron Dome system about a decade ago and has provided the regime with huge financial support for its production and maintenance.

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