US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Israel urgently needs more financial aid from the United States for its offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
On Monday afternoon, Reid, a member of the Democratic Party, warned that the Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its current war may not be enough, as the Zionist regime continues to massacre Palestinians in Gaza.
Israel has been relentlessly pounding the besieged territory for 21 days. More than 1,050 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded, including women and children. In retaliation, Palestinian resistance fighters have fired rockets into Israel.
The Israeli military is now threatening to escalate its war on the coastal enclave by warning Palestinians in areas around the Gaza City to leave their homes.
Last week, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to congressional leadership requesting $225 million in additional US funding for Israel’s Iron Dome, which is a short-range rocket defense system designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from a range of between four and 70 kilometers.
The money would be in addition to the $351 million that’s already under discussion for Iron Dome in fiscal 2015. It would bring total funding to $576 million, compared with the $176 million requested by the Pentagon for the year that begins on October 1.
But Reid said Tel Aviv will need even more money from Washington if the war continues.
“We should not give the Israeli people the minimum amount of aid and then cross our fingers and hope it all works out in the future,” Reid said. “We can do better and need to go further in protecting Israel.”
On Thursday, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans plan to introduce their own legislation that would provide additional funding for the Iron Dome.
“Republicans are united in support of our ally Israel. We have legislation that would allow Congress to meet the [Defense] Secretary’s request” for $225 million, said McConnell. “We hope our friends on the other side will join us in coming to a sensible, bipartisan solution that can be passed quickly.”
But Reid accused Republicans of “slow walking” the money as the recess deadline approaches.
“We’ve got to get this done,” Reid said. “Leaving here with Israel being naked as they are, with these wildfires raging and a crisis at the border, it would be a shame if we did nothing.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski on Wednesday introduced an emergency spending bill that included funding for the border crisis, Israel’s Iron Dome system and wildfire relief. Republicans have pushed back against the border funding proposal.
In 2013, Congress allocated $235 million for the Iron Dome. And the Obama administration had requested about $176 million for the system for 2015, but the Senate panel doubled the amount.
A Congressional Research Service report in April said that the US had provided more than $700 million to Israel for Iron Dome. The latest bill would lift that to about $1 billion.
Israel already receives billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money each year. Under an existing 10-year aid agreement between Washington and Tel Aviv signed in 2007, $30 billion of American money is flowing to Israel.
The US annual military aid to Israel has been elevated from $2.4 billion to $3.1 billion through 2017 under the existing agreement.
Meanwhile, US and Israeli officials have discussed a surge in US military aid to Israel in a new aid package that would extend through 2027.
In an interview with Press TV on July 10, international peace activist Sara Flounders said the Israeli aggression in Gaza is fully backed by the United States.
“The US is the main support of Israel and is totally behind this attack. Any attack from Israel would have been impossible without decades of US military, political, diplomatic, and economic support of Israel,” Flounders said.
“And the Zionist policy — its attack on the Palestinian people, its attack on the surrounding countries — every part of that policy is the US policy to destabilize the region and an attempt to destroy the Palestinian people,” she added.
“Not only is the US behind this, the US has denounced the unity government of the Palestinian people, between Fatah and Hamas — a huge step forward — and that’s because US policy at every point, US corporate rule, is for divide and conquer,” the activist noted.