VIENNA – The US Congress will answer Hamas’s rocket campaign against Israeli cities by significantly increasing its funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
The system has proven effective beyond Washington’s expectations. Israel says the Iron Dome has demonstrated an accuracy rate of 90 percent in the most recent conflict, during which Hamas has fired more than 1,100 rockets into the Jewish state from Gaza.
The short-range defense system only intercepts rockets fired at populated areas, since each Tamir interceptor missile costs between $40,000- $50,000. With 260 intercepts so far throughout the conflict – and at times, with two Tamirs fired at a single incoming rocket to ensure a successful intercept – the projectile cost alone has topped a minimum of $20 million, to say nothing of other operational costs.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ilinois), the chairman of the subcommittee, indicated that Iron Dome’s success during the recent hostilities helped spur support for the package, telling AP that the anti-missile system “works.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee commended the panel “for standing with Israel by significantly increasing funding for these critical defensive programs, including Iron Dome, at a time when the citizens of our ally are under an unprovoked attack by Islamist terrorists in Gaza,” Marshall Wittmann, the AIPAC spokesman, said in an email.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has now proposed increasing its funding for the program by more than half, approving $351m.
for the Iron Dome on Tuesday, within a larger commitment of $621.6m. for Israeli missile defense.
Last year, Congress provided $235m. for the system.
The US legislature conditions the funding on Israel’s commitment to positioning the defense batteries around civilian areas, as opposed to military assets.
Yaakov Lappin and JTA contributed to this report.