By Ria Novosti
The U.S. Department of Defense will ask Congress to provide additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The system, designed to intercept short-range missiles, has been partly funded by a $205 million U.S. grant. According to the Department of Defense, it intercepted over 80 percent of the targets it engaged earlier this month, when nearly 300 rockets and mortar shells were launched at southern Israeli territories.
“The Department of Defense has been in conversations with the Government of Israel about U.S. support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity,” press secretary George Little said in a statement.
Last week, Rep. Howard L. Berman introduced the Iron Dome Support Act (IDSA) authorizing U.S. President Barack Obama to provide Iron Dome assistance if requested by Israel. While the bill was still in initial stages of the legislation process, it has already won support from both parties, Haaretz reported.
“Supporting the security of the State of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta,” the Department of Defense statement reads.
Israel moved to develop the Iron Dome air defense system following years of fighting against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The militants had fired thousands of short-range rockets at Israel until Operation Cast Lead in December 2008-January 2009 put an end to massive Palestinian attacks. The war claimed the lives of some 1,500 Palestinians.
During a month-long war with Lebanon in the summer of 2006, militants of the Shiite armed group Hezbollah have fired some 4,000 short-range rockets at northern Israel.
The cost of a single Iron Dome missile launch is estimated at tens of thousands of dollars, while a single launch of a Qassam rocket is ten times cheaper.