A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to send Israel two Iron Dome batteries — the systems that launch interceptors to block incoming rockets — as soon as possible.
The letter, first reported by NBC News, was led by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and sent Tuesday evening in the aftermath of a vicious attack on Israel by Hamas that has shocked the world. It is co-signed by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., who wrote that they believe “Israel may urgently require additional missile defense capacity to protect its citizens and territory, including new Iron Dome batteries.”
“As you know, the United States Army is currently in possession of two Iron Dome batteries that have not been deployed and have no operational use inside the United States where they are currently stored,” they wrote. “Immediately transferring these two Iron Dome batteries that are not in use to Israel would provide tangible, life-saving and sustained support to our ally as it faces rocket and missile salvos that threaten to overwhelm its defenses.”
“We likewise implore you to provide Israel with other defensive assets that could be useful as it faces this unprecedented onslaught of terrorist violence,” added the senators, all four of whom are on the Armed Services Committee.
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The Israel Defense Forces says Hamas has fired more than 4,500 rockets since Saturday’s initial assault. The Iron Dome intercepted most of them, saving lives and infrastructure in Israel.
The Iron Dome is a short-range system that fires interceptors at incoming rockets, artillery and mortars, striking them mid-flight and causing them to explode in the air. It focuses on low-altitude projectiles, usually unguided. Iron Dome batteries can be moved around, and Israel has at least 10 spread throughout the country to protect population centers.
The U.S. has spent nearly $3 billion on Iron Dome batteries, interceptors and other costs, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israel uses a variant known as Tamir interceptors, many of which are manufactured at Raytheon’s missile and defense facility in Tucson, Arizona, and then assembled in Israel.
During Operation Shield and Arrow in May, the IDF said, Islamic Jihad fired over 1,469 rockets, aimed at the most populated parts of the country, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Only 1,139 crossed into Israeli territory, the IDF reported, with Iron Dome intercepting 437. The IDF called that a 95.6% success rate, including rockets that were determined on trajectories that would not hit populated areas. The Iron Dome has a radar and tracking system that calculates whether a projectile poses a threat to a populated area. If it does, the Iron Dome fires an interceptor.
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In a speech Tuesday, Biden announced that the U.S. will send Iron Dome interceptors to Israel to replenish stockpiles that have been depleted in the past four days.
He called the attack an act of “pure, unadulterated evil” against Israel by the “bloody hands of the terrorist organization Hamas.”
“We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack,” Biden said. “There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse.”
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