reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A U.S. Senate subcommittee unanimously voted to approve a defense bill that doubled the Pentagon’s request for funds to support Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, according to reports published Tuesday.
The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee gave its nod to a bill that would provide $621.6 million to Israel for its missile program in the fiscal year 2015, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system, which intercepts short-range rockets and mortars.
The subcommittee’s decision comes at a time when Israel has resumed airstrikes on Gaza after a cease-fire deal with Hamas fell through on Tuesday. Since the operation began last Tuesday, Israel has launched more than 1,750 airstrikes in Gaza that have killed more than 200 Palestinians, according to latest reports.
Israel has claimed that it has avoided loss of civilian life in the current conflict -- only one Israeli has been killed so far -- due to the effectiveness of the Iron Dome system.
“If we did not have it and rockets were falling in Israel, killing people, then the Israeli army would have little choice but to enter Gaza on foot to get rid of the place where the rockets are coming from,” Amir Peretz, former Israeli defense minister, told the Washington Post.
The Iron Dome, which was built by Haifa-based company Rafael, is the short-range component of Israel's three-tier anti-missile defense system. The other two -- “David’s Sling” and “Arrow System” -- are still under development, according to an Economist report. Iron Dome calculates where exactly an enemy missile will hit as soon as it is launched, and deploys an interceptor missile to shoot it down. Each interception reportedly costs $60,000.
Israel has received $720 million in American funding for its Iron Dome program since 2011.
Israel Resumes Airstrikes In Gaza
Following the collapse of an Egypt-brokered cease-fire proposal Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, renewed its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Seven people were reportedly killed early Wednesday morning, taking the death toll to 205, while Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday that more than 1,500 people have been injured since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
The IDF confirmed that it had launched an attack on the house of top Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar early Wednesday morning. IDF also asked about 100,000 residents of the towns of Zeitoun in the south and Shuja’iyya in the east to evacuate as it prepared to intensify airstrikes in the area.
Israel suffered its first casualty late on Tuesday night, when a resident of Beit Aryeh was killed in a mortar explosion near the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza.