Reid: ‘We can do better’ to help defend Israel

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on Congress to immediately pass legislation to provide Israel emergency funding for its Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Pentagon has requested $225 million for Israel, but Reid said Congress should be prepared to do more if the conflict with Hamas continues.

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“Our Israeli friends shouldn’t be in the position of picking and choosing which parts of the country to defend,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday. “We can do better, and we need to go further in protecting Israel.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has introduced a $3.5 billion package that includes $2.7 billion to deal with the influx of immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, $225 million for Israel and $615 million for wildfire relief in the West.

Republicans have said they’d prefer to pass a stand-alone funding measure for Israel because there is bipartisan agreement on that, but not on funding for the border.

“My Republican friends are slow walking this to say the least. … We should approve funding for these three very important measures immediately,” Reid said “It would be a shame if we do nothing.”

The Senate will be in session for only one week before leaving for the August recess.

Israel uses Iron Dome missiles to deflect rockets fired by Hamas. Israel has come under heavy fire from Hamas rockets and has launched a ground offensive in Gaza to destroy tunnels used by Hamas. 

Reid said that each Israel missile used to deflect Hamas’ rockets costs nearly $60,000 a piece and Hamas has fired more than 2,500 rockets in the past few weeks.

“After three weeks of fighting, Israel needs these funds to replace the weaponry it has used to destroy Hamas’ incoming rockets,” Reid said. “But there is no guarantee that Israel won’t need our help again if the conflict continues on for weeks or even months.  … We should not give the Israeli people the minimal amount of aid.”