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Pro-Israel groups urge US Senate to approve $1bn funding for Iron Dome

Republican Senator Rand Paul has repeatedly blocked the legislation, arguing that funds must come from aid the government has set aside for Afghanistan
Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system is launched to intercept a rocket from the Gaza Strip, on 17 May 2021 (AFP)

Several pro-Israeli groups in the US have pressed the Senate leadership to move forward with $1bn in funding to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, and blasted a prominent Republican for blocking the legislation.

The eight organisations - which include Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Anti-Defamation League - urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday to "urgently move forward" with the funding that has been stagnant in the Senate since September.

In September, the House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill to provide Israel with $1bn for replenishing the anti-missile system. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority, with 420 members voting in favour and only nine against it.

But Republican Senator Rand Paul has repeatedly blocked four requests by Democrats to pass the legislation, insisting that it should be reallocated from proposed US assistance to Afghanistan.

"One person's objection should not undermine the overwhelming bipartisan will of the Senate nor stand in the way of ensuring Israel has the tools necessary to keep its people safe," the organisations wrote

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"While we understand the supplemental Iron Dome funding would likely be included in a final omnibus spending package, the delay and even the prospects of a second continuing resolution undermine Israel’s security when the need to replenish this defensive system is urgent."

Jewish Insider was first to report on the letter.

The Iron Dome is a short-range anti-rocket system that uses targeting systems and radar to detect projectiles. Once located, it then fires Tamir interceptor missiles at the projectiles.

The system is specifically designed to fire at projectiles only targeting strategic locations, such as population centres or military installations.

Since it became operational in 2011, Israel has deployed 10 batteries across the country, each with three to four launchers capable of firing 20 interceptor missiles.

The Iron Dome has been used by Israel to intercept projectiles from both Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. According to the Israeli government, during the most recent escalation with Hamas in May, it had a roughly 90 percent interception rate.

Around 250 Palestinians in Gaza were killed in Israeli air strikes during the 11-day conflict in May 2021, with 13 people killed in Israel.

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