House committee approves missile defense funding for Israel


WASHINGTON (JTA) – The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems.

Included in the U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense funds is $41.4 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system, which Israel says was key in repelling rocket attacks during last summer’s war with Hamas.

Also included in the amendment approved Thursday are $165 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs, as well as $267.6 million in research and development funds.

Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the committee chairman, and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), its ranking Democrat, initiated the allocation as as an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which now must be approved by the full House and Senate.

The committee also approved an amendment authorizing research and development of an anti-tunneling defense system.

The tunneling amendment was sponsored by Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and is designed to help Israel as well as American military bases bordering Mexico and Canada.

Hamas uses tunnels to smuggle weapons, money and supplies into the Gaza Strip and also has launched terrorist attacks within Israel’s borders through their tunnels.

“Tunnels are an age-old threat that have re-emerged in a very dangerous way,” Lamborn said in a statement. “We know that if Hamas has used tunnels in successful terrorist attacks, it is only a matter of time before terrorists elsewhere use tunnels as well.”

Graham agreed, adding, “The U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act will launch an unprecedented new initiative to protect Israel from this dangerous menace.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee backed both amendments.

“AIPAC urges the full House and Senate to include these vital funds in the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2016 defense authorization and appropriations bills,” it said in a statement.

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