Israel announced this week a successful test of the new “C-Dome”—a naval version of the Iron Dome missile defense system. The news comes as talks to reign in Iran’s race to a nuclear weapon are set to end next week—deal or no deal. And as Russia pushes forward with its invasion of Ukraine.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of an American delegation were welcomed to Israel’s Knesset Wednesday. Both Pelosi and Speaker of the Knesset, Mickey Levy, focused on one thing—Iran.
“The nuclear threat by Iran is a global one. It is a threat to the world. Israel’s proximity to Iran is a concern to all of us and a responsibility for all of us,” Speaker Pelosi said.
“Iran is a terror state whose actions are aimed at wreaking havoc and destruction in every corner of the world,” Speaker Levy said. “We remember the firm support of the United States for Israel’s security throughout history. We are all here in the Knesset of Israel with a uniform message that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear capabilities.”
During the welcoming ceremony for the US delegation, Levy was joined by 100 Israeli children waving US and Israeli flags; the children all live in communities near Gaza.
“With us are children from southern Israel who are here thanks to the Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System. You have chosen to support Israel’s right to defend its citizens, you have chosen to stand by the only democracy in the Middle East, and you have chosen to assist Israel to save lives, including the lives of every boy and girl who are with us in the plenum today,” Levy shared.
Pelosi, a Democrat, led the effort in Congress last year to provide $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome missiles after it repeatedly launched during the 11-day war with Hamas last May. Hamas reigned down thousands of rockets aimed at southern and central Israeli cities, intent on harming civilians—but the Iron Dome successfully thwarted an impressive 90 percent of the barrage.
However, to the left of Pelosi are several progressive politicians who have bought into the lie that Israel is an oppressive nation. They will do all they can to keep Israel from being secure. AOC, Talib Rashid, and Ilhan Omer have all accused Israel of racism. They must be too young to remember the Holocaust. The reason the Jewish nation must be a Jewish nation is because we have suffered 52 attempted genocides.
Speaker Pelosi also brought up the Biden administration’s position that a “just and enduring two-state solution” is the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Additionally, she praised Israel for being a shining example for the world in their COVID pandemic response.
The US delegation—which included Pelosi’s husband, several House members, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides—also met with President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and other senior Israeli leaders during their visit to Israel.
On Tuesday, US House Representatives, dubbed “The Squad,” scored a symbolic victory, successfully squashing $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, surprisingly, with the help of House Republicans. The aid to Israel was tucked into a massive funding bill going through the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had made a last-minute decision to add the money for Israel into the bill and forgo the typical debate on such measures. Her decision raised eyebrows…and the ire of the Squad members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush, as well as fellow progressives Betty McCollum and Pramila Jayapal. The Squad and company informed the House leadership that they would not have their votes if the Iron Dome funding remained in the bill.
Even though Democratic leadership has insisted that the Squad does not sway their commitment to Israel, the freshman foursome (AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley) have demonstrated that they will not be taken for granted, especially when it comes to Israel or the Palestinians. This may have been true before the last election when the Democrats had a comfortable majority. They could afford to lose the five to eight votes coming from the Squad and their sympathizers. But now, they only have an eight-seat majority. That means they can only handle four defectors. The fifth one would give Republicans a victory.
House Republicans also had a part in the drama (which some characterize as “a storm in a teacup”). Supposedly, the Democrats had hoped to pull in a few GOP votes by including the Iron Dome…but no one budged, even before Pelosi agreed to pull the Iron Dome funding out of the measure. House Republicans were not planning on voting for the legislation—regardless of the Iron Dome. The bill was really about avoiding a shutdown of the US government—and the political stalemate between Democrats and Republicans won the day.
The $1 billion Israel is asking for is about 60 percent of what the US has sent over the last decade for Iron Dome funding. Both Democrats and Republicans say the funding will still be considered…just as a separate measure. And it is expected to pass.
Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thought the whole matter had less to do with Israel and more to do with politics, but nevertheless, he weighed in. And he is right. The US Congress is still overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Still, this is an uncomfortable precedent.
“After years in which the previous government (Netanyahu) neglected Congress and the Democratic Party and caused considerable damage to Israel-US relations, we are today rebuilding a relationship of trust with the Congress.”
It turns out that the Squad’s “victory” was very short-lived. On Thursday, the House took up a standalone bill on the $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome, as promised. It passed with an overwhelming majority—420-9. Surprisingly, AOC opted to abstain by voting “present” instead of voting “no” like the rest of the Squad.
Israel’s famous missile defense system, the Iron Dome, has come to America! No, there’s not a war on the southern border (yet). Instead, the Iron Dome’s debut in the U.S. is the product of a 2019 agreement in which the U.S. military agreed to purchase two of the batteries. The systems were delivered in late 2020-early 2021.
Earlier this summer, the first trials on U.S. soil of the technology were conducted at the White Sands test range in New Mexico. U.S. Army troops, with the assistance of several Israeli defense contractors, participated in a live-fire trial, successfully shooting down drones and other aerial targets. The Iron Dome has been upgraded over its tenure history and can now shoot down not only rockets but mortar shells, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones).
Israel wants to sell more of the Iron Dome batteries to the U.S. and other countries without giving away key information that enemies could use to work around the system.
The Iron Dome is part of a larger arsenal Israel deploys to defend its citizens against incoming rockets and other weapons from Gaza and sometimes along the northern border with Syria. The Iron Dome had a 90 percent effective rate against the barrage of 4,000 missiles Hamas fired in May. It continues to stand guard on the border with Gaza and has shot down a few missiles fired out of Gaza recently.
Israel also deploys David’s Sling (a mid-range missile defense system) and Arrow-2 and 3 (long-range systems), as well as a promising laser-in-the-sky technology that is still in the test phase.
IDF Chief Ariv Kohavi said this week that the military is preparing for another round with Hamas. In the three months since a tentative ceasefire was reached, the terrorist group has continued to periodically launch incendiary balloons into Israel, fire missiles, and stage violent riots along the border. Dozens of Palestinians have been injured in the protests. In addition, one Hamas operative was killed, and an Israeli border police officer was critically wounded after being shot in the head at close range.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in response to the escalation of tensions again, “Our “toolbox is filling—we have increased capabilities in terms of aid and development of the Gaza Strip for the benefit of over 2 million Gaza residents, and also in terms of the military plans we’re developing, should we be required to take action. The reality on the ground will determine which of these tools we will choose to employ.”
Israel has a promising new defense weapon, a laser system, installed in a small airplane that can shoot down enemy missiles or drones before they get close enough to threaten civilians and cities. The Ministry of Defense recently announced a successful series of tests of its High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS).
“The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats—securing the State of Israel while saving costs of interception,” Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
During the recent conflict in May, Israel relied heavily on the Iron Dome anti-missile system, a highly effective but financially costly defense system. Each time the Iron Dome fired to intercept the barrage of incoming rockets launched by Hamas, it cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, experts estimate. In stark contrast, most of the missiles used by Hamas only cost an estimated $300-800, with longer-range rockets costing a few thousand, according to reports.
This round of testing of the HPL-WS is part of Phase 1 in a multi-year program. It is a partnership between an international defense electronics company, Elbit Systems, and Israel’s Defense Ministry.
Being able to utilize an airborne laser defense weapon has many advantages, according to the Ministry of Defense, including “low cost per interception, the ability to effectively intercept long-range threat at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions, and the ability to defend vast areas.”
In addition to the more well-known Iron Dome, Israel also utilizes David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptor systems. The laser-in-the-sky system would add yet another strategic layer of protection against future threats.
“We believe that the use of a high-power laser to carry out low-cost airborne interception of rockets and hostile unmanned aircraft, closer to their launching areas and away from population centers, offers a significant change in Israel’s defensive capabilities,” said Oren Saba, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR.
With enemies on every side, especially one with nuclear ambitions, and all with a united purpose—to wipe Israel off the face of the earth—I’m thankful our nation keeps advancing in defensive technology. However, our only real hope is in the God of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and in His Son, Yeshua, our Messiah and soon returning King.