Congress overwhelmingly approved an emergency measure on Friday to grant $225 million in additional revenue to Israel for the country’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) received unanimous consent from his colleagues Friday morning when he asked them to consider approving the measure, The Hill reported. An attempt one day earlier by the Senate to approve funding for the system had failed.
Friday evening the House of Representatives also overwhelmingly passed the additional funding by a vote of 395-8. The packagewill put nearly a quarter of a billion dollars towards Israel’s missile defense system, which is jointly built by US defense giant Raytheon, as the country continues its campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
“They’re running out of Iron Dome missiles to protect themselves,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said at the hearing, according to The Hill. “We are with you. Here are the missiles.”
“We are with the Israelis, because if they don’t have the Iron Dome, they can’t defend themselves,” added Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).
Earlier in the day, a previously agreed upon ceasefire agreement between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas fell apart barely two hours after it began. The IDF has been waging a campaign on Gaza for nearly one month now, and says the ongoing strikes are needed to retaliate against missiles being launched by Hamas into Israeli territory.
“Hamas violated the humanitarian ceasefire which began this morning by firing rockets at Israel from Gaza,”the Jerusalem Post cited the Israeli Foreign Ministry as saying. The ceasefire was expected to last 72 hours.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said: “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s attack, which led to the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the apparent abduction of another. It was an outrageous violation of the ceasefire negotiated over the past several days, and of the assurances given to the United States and the United Nations.” Kerry also said Hamas must “immediately and unconditionally” release the Israeli soldier in their custody.
According to Reuters, Kerry also reached out to officials in Turkey and Qatar on Friday in an effort to ease tensions in the Middle East.
“We have urged them, implored them to use their influence to do whatever they can to get that soldier returned,” a senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Kerry, Reuters reported.“Absent that, the risk of this continuing to escalate, leading to further loss of life is very high.”
Earlier this week, an IDF-attributed strike on Gaza resulted in the shelling of a United Nations-run school inside of a Palestinian refugee camp. The White House, UN and international community at large mostly condemned the attack, but that same day the Pentagon reportedly approved an Israeli-made request for additional rounds of ammunition from the US.