WASHINGTON, June 29, 2016 — The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is calling on Congress to add $320 million for Israeli missile defense to the Senate version of a defense appropriations bill.
The bill would increase the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, going to bolster U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs and more purchases of the Iron Dome system that protects Israel from Palestinian attacks.
Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are leading the effort, bringing the Senate version of the bill in line with the bill proposed by the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama has threatened previous legislation to add $455m in funds that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives
In a letter to the Armed Services Committee chairmen the senators wrote:
“Amid growing rocket and missile threats in the Middle East, it is prudent for the United States and Israel to advance and accelerate bilateral cooperation on missile defense technologies.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that Hamas is digging infiltration tunnels toward Israel, moving up to six-miles of ground every day. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “issued warnings about the threat of Hamas murder squads intruding into Israeli communities. The cabinet meetings were attended by IDF representatives, the Shin Bet, and the National Security Council” in the past.
Israel believes that the tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel are used by Hamas to insert Nuhba Force members into Israel.
The White House has opposed expanding funding for Israel’s missile defense system. A six-page statement released in June contained detailed points of opposition to the funding as the House request was significantly more than previously requested by the administration.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency says “The administration “opposes the addition of $455 million” for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs, the statement said, while noting that the bill cuts $324 million from non-Israel related defense systems.”