Senator Lindsey Graham expects US to send additional funds for Israel's Iron Dome

President Joe Biden has said he would replenish missile defence system

US Senator Lindsey Graham takes off a microphone after speaking to journalists in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, June 1, 2021. AP 
US Senator Lindsey Graham takes off a microphone after speaking to journalists in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, June 1, 2021. AP 

A senior US senator said on Tuesday he expected Washington to quickly authorise as much as $1 billion for Israel to replenish its Iron Dome missile defence system after clashes in May with Hamas.

“There will be a $1bn request coming to the Pentagon this week from the [Israeli] defence minister to replenish the Iron Dome and a few other things, to upgrade the system,” Lindsey Graham told reporters in Jerusalem.

A senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mr Graham met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz during a trip to Israel. The committee oversees government spending, including foreign military aid.

Mr Graham said Iron Dome had saved thousands of lives during last month's rocket attacks and predicted Israel's request would find favour with President Joe Biden and Congress, which is narrowly controlled by Mr Biden's Democrats.

“There's been a big dust-up over the last engagement between Hamas and the state of Israel in the United States, but I'm here to tell you that there's a wide and deep support for Israel among the Democratic Party,” Mr Graham said.

Mr Biden has said he would replenish Iron Dome, which helped Israel fend off most of the more than 4,300 rockets fired from Gaza during the conflict.

Israel and Hamas began a ceasefire on May 21 after 11 days of the fiercest Israeli-Palestinian hostilities in years, with nearly 250 people dead, all but 13 of them Palestinians.

Israel's fierce response drew criticism from some Democrats, but Israel generally enjoys strong support in Washington from both parties. Congress routinely approves large sums of military funding for a country seen as a solid US partner in an unstable region.

Israel's Defence Ministry said Mr Gantz would meet US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday in Washington for a discussion on issues including Iran and military aid.

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Updated: June 2, 2021 06:06 PM

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