JERUSALEM, Israel – The US Senate approved $4.8 billion in military aid to Israel as part of its $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package.
The legislation sets aside $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which is used to intercept missiles and other projectiles launched by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Last May, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups launched 4,300 rockets at Israel in 11 days. The Irone Dome intercepted 90% of the missiles aimed at civilian populations.
For months, the Iron Dome funding was delayed in Congress. Despite facing opposition from several progressives, House Democrats overwhelmingly passed a standalone $1 billion bill in September to replenish the Iron Dome. However, when the measure moved to the Senate, Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) shot down repeated bipartisan attempts to pass it.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked US leaders on Thursday for approving the Iron Dome funding and said it showed “the unique bond between the US and Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also praised the measure.
“Thank you to the U.S. Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security and for passing the critical security package — including the replenishment of the life-saving Iron Dome,” Bennett tweeted.
The 2,741-page omnibus package also includes $3.8 billion in additional military assistance to Israel, and security funding for Jewish non-profits, which was requested due to a recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Jewish Federations of North America said it was “grateful for the increase in funding for nonprofit security in last night’s omnibus bill. This accomplishment is the culmination of months-long advocacy efforts that we led.”
The package included the Israel Relations Normalization Act, which seeks to support and expand the Abraham Accords – a series of peace agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan.
Additionally, the package includes $50 million in funding for the Middle East Peace Partnership Act, which promotes Israel-Palestinian dialogue programs and investment in Palestinian business development.
The measure includes $219 million to support humanitarian projects in Gaza and the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria.