US aid to Israel has been blocked by Republican senators, who have concerns that support for America's "number one ally" would increase the country's debt. The aid, worth $225 million for Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, was included in a proposed "border aid bill" worth a total of $2.7 billion, which was also intended to help fight wildfires in America's Western states.
The leader of the majority group in the senate, Harry Reid, tried to separate the components of the bill so that the Israeli aid could be pushed through.
"We've all watched as the tiny state of Israel, who is with us on everything, they have had in the last three weeks 3,000 rockets fired into their country," pleaded Reid. He made no mention of the thousands of tonnes of high explosives that the Israel Defence Forces have fired into the Gaza Strip and which have killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including many women and children, and wounded thousands more.
Although the US was apparently happy to pump yet more money into the Iron Dome system, recent research has demonstrated that it is an ineffective deterrent and plays no major role in intercepting the home-made rockets fired from Gaza in response to Israel's brutal assault. Claims of a "90 per cent" success rate have been debunked by anti-missile technology experts, who say that the real figure is more like "5 per cent", reaching "10 per cent on a good day".
When senators tried to insist on commensurate cuts to the UN and other international organisations in order to balance the books and allow the aid to Israel to go ahead, Reid blocked the move. Referring to Israel as "our number one ally", which will not please European leaders, Reid insisted that Israel "is under attack" in a clear distortion of reality. As the occupying power, Israel has no claim to "self-defence" in international law, its excuse for launching the third major assault and bombardment on the besieged Gaza Strip in the past four years.