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US Congress approves $1bn for Israel missile defence

Israelis gather to watch the Iron Dome missile defence system launch to intercept rockets fire from the Gaza Strip on May 17, 2021 in Ashdod, Israel. [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]
sraelis gather to watch the Iron Dome missile defence system launch to intercept rockets fire from the Gaza Strip on May 17, 2021 in Ashdod, Israel. [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

The US House of Representatives has approved $1 billion in new funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, just days after the funding was removed from a broader spending bill.

Legislators passed the bill in a 420-9 vote yesterday, meaning the bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Democrat lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who abstained on the vote at the last minute, instead of standing by her opposition to it, apparently burst into tears as the result was read.

Among the 'no' votes were US House Representative Rashida Tlaib and her fellow Squad members Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

According to a news release on the legislation, the funding "is consistent with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel, which commits the United States to providing additional assistance to replenish the Iron Dome after periods of fighting to allow Israel to continue to defend itself from attack."

Some liberal Democrats have voiced concerns this year about US-Israel policy, citing among other things the many Palestinian casualties to Israeli airstrikes in May.

READ: The Palestinians are already free; it is we who are held captive by Zionism

Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, yesterday called the Israeli government an "apartheid regime" and said the $1 billion represents "an absurd and unjustifiable" increase in US funding for the Iron Dome.

"I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence," she said in a speech on the House floor. "We cannot be talking only about Israelis need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system."

In a tweet yesterday, Omar expressed her disapproval of the funding. "Given the human rights violations in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, and ever-growing settlement expansion, we should not be ramming through a last-minute $1 billion increase in military funding for Israel without any accountability."

The Iron Dome Aerial Defence System is designed to intercept rockets midair by targeting them and firing interceptor missiles to destroy them. It was initially developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, but it has since been heavily sponsored by the US.

Last month the Jerusalem Post reported that the US Army had decided not to buy Israel's Iron Dome to counter aerial threats, despite having successfully carried out a first live-fire test of the missile defence system.

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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