With US economy in freefall, Washington to foot bill for Israeli missile shield

‘US allocates $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system’

Haaretz (Israel); December 12, 2010

Barack Obama’s administration has allocated $205 million toward funding Israel‘s advanced anti-rocket system, the Iron Dome.

The House of Representatives made the decision 212-206 after it passed a continuing resolution regarding funds for the 2011 fiscal year.

“This was a priority of Congress and President Obama, and it is the first funding of its kind for this important short-range rocket and artillery shell defense system,” said Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

The funds are in addition to the more than $200 million allocated for the Arrow and David’s Sling, joint US-Israel anti-missile systems.

“This funding sends a strong message, to both our enemies and allies, by providing more total dollars than ever before toward these rocket and missile defense programs,” said Rothman. “This is only the latest example that when it comes to defense, military, and intelligence cooperation, the relationship between the US and Israel has never been stronger.”

“Given the scrutiny that our nation is appropriately giving to every dollar expended for all purposes — including the defense of the United States and its allies — it is a mark of the great importance of these projects that they were included in this funding bill,” Rothman added.

The US Congress passed last week the Obama administration’s initiative to provide Israel with the grant to procure Iron Dome batteries just before the system aced its final test over the summer.

To date, the Defense Ministry has bought two batteries. Several months ago, the ministry’s top brass estimated the sum the Americans allotted would be sufficient for procuring eight or nine batteries, half of what is necessary to protect the Negev and the Galilee from short- and intermediate-range rockets and missiles.

The defense establishment is still weighing the balance between the number of radars for the systems to the number of intercept missiles necessary. Different estimates suggest that each intercept missile will cost $40,000.

The above article can be found here: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-allocates-205-million-for-israel-s-iron-dome-anti-rocket-system-1.329668

‘US House approves Israel missile defense aid’

Agence France Presse (AFP); December 9, 2010

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved more than $200 million to help Israel deploy a short-range anti-missile defense system called “Iron Dome.”

The money was included in a catch-all spending bill covering government expenses in the fiscal year that began 1 October, which cleared the House by a 212-206 margin and now heads to the Senate.

“This is only the latest example that when it comes to defense, military, and intelligence cooperation, the relationship between the US and Israel has never been stronger,” said Democratic Representative Steve Rothman.

Israel completed tests in January on its Iron Dome system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah. The next phase is to integrate the system into the army. Israel hopes the Iron Dome will help counter rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and from Lebanon.

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of home-made rockets into southern Israel [causing few, if any, casualties — 800], prompting Israel’s devastating assault on Hamas in Gaza on 27 December 2008 [which killed more than 1500, mostly civilian, Palestinians — 800].

The Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah also fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war with Israel. The group is believed to have an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.

“This funding sends a strong message, to both our enemies and allies, by providing more total dollars than ever before toward these rocket and missile defense programs,” said Rothman, a key backer of the funding.

The above article can be found here: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/1506/World/Region/US-House-approves-Israel-missile-defence-aid.aspx

‘House Okays administration earmark for Israel’s Iron Dome’

National Journal (US); December 10, 2010

Tucked into a massive continuing resolution approved by the House on Wednesday is $205 million for an Israeli missile-defense system that the Obama administration views as essential to the security of the Jewish state.

President Obama sought the funds in May — well after his fiscal 2011 budget request was sent to Congress — to help pay for production of Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield, which is designed to stop short-range rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. The money comes on top of a separate $200 million provision in the CR to support the Arrow theater missile-defense program and other well-established US-Israel missile defense ventures.

This was a priority of Congress and President Obama, and it is the first funding of its kind for this important short-range rocket and artillery shell defense system,” Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said about the Iron Dome funds. “Given the scrutiny that our nation is appropriately giving to every dollar expended for all purposes — including the defense of the United States and its allies — it is a mark of the great importance of these [missile defense] projects that they were included in this funding bill.”

The added funds for Iron Dome have received scant attention inside the Beltway, probably because, as a Democratic appropriations staffer noted, there was no particular controversy over adding the money to a measure that traditionally provides funds to keep the federal government operating at the previous year’s spending levels. “Israel does enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress, so it was more amenable to include these types of funding,” the aide said.

But the looming switch to Republican control in the House next month has clearly changed the political environment in favor of deficit reduction and greater discipline in drafting spending measures, the staffer acknowledged. “I’ve talked with very pro-Israel Republican members of Congress who obviously supported the project because they support Israel, but even they hesitated because of the costs,” he said.  “They didn’t want to support any of these [appropriations in the CR] because they interpret their [overall] mandate as cutting spending.”

Nonetheless, the ever-growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the increasing strength of its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, made the funding for the Iron Dome essential to pass, he added.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama went to Sderot, Israel, to affirm Israel’s right to defend its citizens against Qassam rockets fired at the town and nearby communities by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“The president recognizes the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel’s short-range rocket defense system called Iron Dome,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said when Obama asked Congress for the extra funding in May.

Cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump [read ‘psy-op’ — 800] of secret diplomatic documents also confirm the administration’s concerns about proliferation of weapons in the region not just by Iran, but also Syria. Cables reveal Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “deep concern” over Syrian efforts to supply Hezbollah with ballistic missiles. A Pentagon official quoted in The New York Times fears that conflicts could erupt into full-scale regional war now that Hezbollah’s arsenal includes about 50,000 rockets and missiles, including some 40 to 50 Fateh-110 missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and most of Israel, and 10 Scud-D missiles.

An official from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Israeli manufacturer of Iron Dome, told National Journal that the mobile defense shield has been deemed “operational” and “ready to be used” after achieving a 100 percent success rate during the last set of tests in July. The system’s name is derived from the literal translation of its Hebrew name, “Kippah Barzel” or “Dome of Iron” — with “kippah” being the same word for the head covering worn by Jewish men.

“It was tested against a variety of threats — the same kind of threats it was designed to intercept, all the way from mortars to artillery shells, Qassams and Katyusha rockets,” he said. Even under a barrage of missiles all fired at the same time, the system successfully intercepted all of them, the official said.

Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli defense minister recently appointed chairman of the Israeli Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Relations and Security, confirmed that Israelis are very worried about the increasing threats of Hezbollah during a briefing arranged for reporters by the Israel Project, a nonprofit media group with offices in Jerusalem and Washington.

Of the Iron Dome shield, designed to protect a specific area from short-range rockets, Mofaz said, “It’s good to have it, but it’s not the answer.”

Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with the Western countries should “build a wall against Iran,” Mofaz said. This “wall” would require the combination of economic sanctions, leaving “all options on the table” in terms of a possible military strike, he said, and pushing for peace negotiations between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Syria.

The above article can be found here: http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/house-oks-administration-earmark-for-israel-s-iron-dome–20101210

‘Eisenkot: Missile defense for IDF bases, not civilians’

YNetNews (Israel); December 1, 2010

Northern Command Chief Major-General Gadi Eisenkot on Tuesday said that active rocket and missile interception systems — such as the Iron Dome and Arrow — are designed to protect the Israel Defense Forces’ offensive capabilities, and not necessarily civilians.

During a speech at the University of Haifa, Eisenkot stressed that “the residents of Israel shouldn’t be under the illusion that someone will open an umbrella over their heads.

The systems are designed to protect military bases, even if this means that citizens suffer discomfort during the first days of battle,” he added.

At the beginning of November, regional council heads from the Gaza vicinity appealed to the High Court of Justice and demanded that the state installs the Iron Dome in order to protect its residents — or alternatively place portable shelters throughout the vicinity.

‘Army must act according to gov’t decisions’

Eisenkot’s comments stirred a storm in the Gaza vicinity regional councils.

Shaar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Shuster said that he was not entirely surprised by the major-general’s comments.

“In a sense it explains the ambiguity surrounding our appeal. Every one knows that the government promised the Iron Dome for the protection of Israel’s citizens — no one mentioned IDF bases in the decision,” he said.

“I do not deal with strategy and defense, but it was made clear that the system was allocated to the Gaza vicinity. Two years after the government decision it seems we were all led astray, including perhaps the government,” Shuster said, adding that the council heads intend to present Eisenkot’s statements during their appeal hearing at the Supreme Court.

Eshkol Regional Council Head Haim Yalin said, “I wish to remind everyone that there is a government decision in regards to the development of the Iron Dome, which is part of the NIS1 billion (about $270 million) of the state budget that was allocated to the protection of the Gaza vicinity communities.

“Last time I checked on Google, we were still living in a democratic country [!], and the army is obliged to act according to the government’s decisions,” he said.

Israel’s aerial defense apparatus consists of various systems including the Iron Dome — meant to intercept rockets with ranges of 5-70km; David’s Sling — scheduled to be operational by 2013 and designed to intercept long-range missiles; and Arrow — designed to intercept ballistic missiles at high altitudes.

The newest Arrow 3 missile interception system was unveiled during an aerospace convention in Jerusalem earlier this month.

The system is slated to be completed by 2015 and will include an interception system for short-range missiles as well as “Kamikaze satellites” that can blow up ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere.

The above article can be found here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3992238,00.html

Also see ‘Zionist state comes out of WikiLeaks debacle smelling like roses’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101203223707519

Also see ‘Analyst: Iran nuclear weapons allegations fabricated by Israel’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101206010316536

Also see ‘US to store another $400 million worth of military equipment in Israel’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101127180959255

Also see ‘Obama offers Israel free stealth fighters, UNSC vetoes, Jordan Valley for 90-day settlement freeze’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101127013253495

Also see ‘Israel-firsters sweep US mid-terms; GOP majority will serve as check on Obama, republican leader tells Netanyahu’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20101118171349469


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