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Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket .(Photo by: REUTERS)
U.S. pledges record $705 million in missile defense aid to Israel
“I thank our great friend the United States, which has invested $6.5 billion to defend the skies of the State of Israel. We are grateful for the assistance."
Congress has dramatically increased its budget for the Israeli missile defense programs by $148 million to include ongoing Iron Dome and Arrow 3 development.

“I am pleased and excited to announce that the US Congress has approved a record sum for Israel’s missile defense program: $705m. in 2018!” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced on Monday.

According to the Defense Ministry, the increase of funding was requested for production of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow-3 missile defense systems.

Together, the systems provide Israel with a protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by Gaza terror groups and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.

The newest generation of the Arrow 3 system, which will be tested in Alaska this summer, is believed to have better-intercepting capabilities at a much higher altitude and much further away from Israeli soil.

The increase in the budget will also be used for further trials of all systems as Israel and the US continue to develop additional capabilities for them against future aerial threats.

“I thank our great friend the United States, which has invested $6.5 billion to defend the skies of the State of Israel,” Liberman continued. “We are grateful for the assistance and uncompromising commitment of the administration and Congress to Israel’s security.

Tomorrow in Jerusalem I will meet with a delegation of congressmen headed by Israel’s friend Nancy Pelosi, and will thank them personally.”

The announcement came mere hours after the Iron Dome system mistook heavy gunfire in the Gaza Strip for a missile barrage, launching close to 10 interceptor missiles after multiple Code Red alarms were mistakenly activated in communities in the Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Councils and in the southern city of Sderot.

The army said that it has opened an investigation into the incident.

Earlier on Sunday, Maj.- Gen. Herzl Halevi, head of the IDF’s intelligence directorate warned of a possible Palestinian “explosion” ahead of the country’s Independence Day next month.

Tension on Israel’s southern and northern borders have been rising in recent months with Israel recently completing the large-scale Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise with the United States.

Over the course of the two week long exercise, troops drilled on possible challenging and complex scenarios adapted to Israel’s operational reality such as missile threats in various sectors simultaneously as well as the threat posed by precise missiles that Iran is trying to produce for Hezbollah.
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