Lindsey Graham says Israel will request $1 billion to replenish Iron Dome after touring the country and speaking with Netanyahu

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  • GOP Senator Lindsey Graham is in Israel surveying damage from the recent violence.
  • Graham said Israel would ask the US for $1 billion to replenish their Iron Dome security system.
  • The security system blocked the vast majority of the thousands of rockets Hamas fired into Israel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham toured Israel to inspect damage from the 11 days of violence with Hamas and said Israel will request $1 billion in aid from the US to replenish their Iron Dome security system.

“There will be a $1 billion request coming to the Pentagon this week from the defense minister to replenish the Iron Dome and a few other things, to upgrade the system,” Graham said at a press conference.

Graham met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

After 11 days of fighting, Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on May 20. At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, were killed, with nearly 2,000 people in Gaza injured. At least 12 people in Israel were also killed, including two children and a soldier.

In their meeting, Netanyahu told Graham: “There is no person who has done more for Israel than you,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli airstrikes destroyed residential buildings and civilian centers, including a building that housed news outlets like the Associated Press. Hamas launched thousands of missiles indiscriminately into Israel, the vast majority blocked by Israel’s defense system.

“This was the largest sustained assault in maybe history and the Iron Dome performed incredibly well, saving thousands of Israeli lives and tens of thousands of Palestinian lives,” Graham said. “I would imagine that the administration will say yes to this request and it will sail through Congress. There has been a big dust-up over the last engagement between Hamas and Israel in the United States, but I’m here to tell you that there is a wide and deep support for Israel among the Democratic party.”

In a video posted on Twitter, Graham said the more Israel is attacked, the more aid the US will send it.

“The more people try to destroy Israel, the more Hamas tries to destroy Israel, the more Iran tries to destroy Israel, the more aid that the United States will provide Israel to defend itself,” Graham said.

In another set of tweets, Graham said the “American Left” did not properly understand the “nature” of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. He said the issue is that Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, are Iranian-backed terror groups that wish “to destroy the Jewish state – not because of @IsraeliPM Netanyahu – but because of their religion.”

“If you don’t understand this, you’re making the biggest mistake since Neville Chamberlin’s Munich Agreement with Hitler. I urge the Middle and Left of Israeli politics to set the American Left straight as to the true nature of this conflict while we still have time,” Graham wrote.

A political coalition was recently formed between right-wing and centrist parties in Israel in an effort to unseat Netanyahu.

Some Democrats were critical of Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza strip and moved to block a $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons at the height of the conflict. The arms sale was approved by Biden’s administration prior to the start of fighting.

Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said the US had been sending billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel for decades “without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights.”

Ocasio-Cortez said the funding made the US is a direct contributor to “the death, displacement, and disenfranchisement of millions.”

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The Israeli military says Iron Dome shot down one of its own drones during intense fighting

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Iron Dome interceptors, left, rise toward rockets fired from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, May 14, 2021.

  • Israel’s Iron Dome repelled thousands of rockets and even drones during recent fighting.
  • The air-defense system also accidentally shot down an Israeli military drone.
  • The Israel Defense Forces told Israeli media the friendly-fire incident is under investigation.
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Israel’s Iron Dome accidentally shot down an Israeli military drone during recent fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces told local media.

“As part of the round of fighting in Gaza and as part of the defense of the country’s skies, an IDF Skylark drone was hit by Iron Dome,” an IDF spokesperson told Haaretz, adding that the incident is under investigation.

Skylark drones are small unmanned aerial vehicles built by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based international defense firm, and used by the IDF Artillery Corps’ “Sky Rider” unit for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

Haaretz reported that the IDF is “worried” about the friendly-fire incident because it calls into question whether the IDF is able “to conduct a long period of fighting without harming its own forces.” It is unclear to what extent this is a concern.

During a recent 11-day conflict involving an intense exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian militants in Gaza, Israel’s Iron Dome faced thousands of rockets, as well as enemy drones, the latter being a first for the system.

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Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from Gaza over Ashkelon, Israel, May 12, 2021.

Israel’s Iron Dome is a short-range air-defense system designed to intercept rockets, artillery, and mortars. The system has been in use since 2011 and is in place to reduce casualties from rocket attacks against Israeli cities.

The system was designed and developed by the Israeli defense companies Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries with US support. It is a part of a larger tiered defense system that includes other critical assets like the Arrow and Patriot batteries.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced in March the completion of upgrades to Iron Dome that would allow it to defend against a much more varied collection of aerial threats that Israel might battle in future conflicts.

During the upgrade process, the defense system was tested against a variety of threats that include rockets, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles, the Associated Press previously reported. Iron Dome had not yet engaged a drone in combat though.

A rocket launched from Gaza city controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, is intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system, on May 11, 2021
Iron Dome intercepts a rocket launched from Gaza, May 11, 2021.

The recent fighting began on May 10 as Hamas began launching Qassem rockets at Israeli cities after a period of heightened tensions and local clashes. During the conflict, the IDF repeatedly praised Iron Dome for its effectiveness.

The system is said to have intercepted 90% of incoming rockets, significantly reducing Israeli losses. Thirteen people, including two children, died in Israel from rockets that made it through. Palestinian deaths, as Israel retaliated with airstrikes, were much higher.

The Times of Israel, which also reported the accidental downing of an Israeli drone, said that the Israeli military conducted around 1,500 airstrikes in Gaza during the conflict. According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including several dozen children, with roughly 2,000 wounded. The deceased included both combatants and civilians.

The horrific conflict, some of the worst fighting in years, concluded last Friday with a ceasefire agreement.

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Israel’s Iron Dome has been put to the test in more ways than one amid intense fighting with Palestinian militants

israel iron dome gaza rockets
Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors, left, rise in response to rockets fired from northern Gaza, May 14, 2021.

  • Israel’s primary defense against Hamas rockets is the Iron Dome system.
  • Around 4,000 rockets were fired at Israel over a period of just 10 days, according to the IDF.
  • In addition to rockets, Iron Dome has also intercepted drones in combat for the first time.
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Israel’s skies are defended by Iron Dome, an air-defense system that has been put to the test in the current conflict with Palestinian militant groups by not only unusually heavy rocket fire but also other threats it has never faced in combat before.

The Israel Defense Force reports that over a period of just 10 days, Hamas and other Palestinian militant forces in Gaza have fired 4,000 Qassam rockets at Israel.

For comparison, over the course of the intense 50-day conflict in 2014, 4,881 rockets were fired, according to UN investigators.

The IDF says that Iron Dome has successfully intercepted roughly 90% of the incoming rockets considered potential threats.

In a first for the system, Iron Dome has also intercepted unmanned aerial vehicles in combat. Iron Dome has so far intercepted five Hamas drones since the fighting started earlier this month, the IDF told Insider.

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Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over the city of Ashkelon, Israel, May 5, 2019.

Israel’s Iron Dome is a short-range air-defense system designed to intercept rockets, artillery, and mortars. The system has been in use since 2011 and has helped reduce casualties from rocket attacks against Israeli cities.

The air-defense system was developed by Israeli defense firms Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries and is part of a tiered defense system including other assets like Arrow and Patriot batteries.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced in March the completion of upgrades to Iron Dome that would allow it to defend against a more diverse collection of aerial threats.

During the upgrade process, the defense system was tested against a variety of threats including rockets, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Iron Dome is designed to eliminate aerial threats at ranges out to a little over 40 miles in any weather conditions. Each Iron Dome battery consists of three to four launchers, each carrying 20 highly maneuverable Tamir interceptors, and a battlefield radar.

Israel has at least 10 batteries deployed around the country. There may be more, as there were plans to deploy 15 batteries.

While the system is extremely effective, “there is no hermetic solution,” Avi Mayer, a former IDF spokesman, told Insider recently.

“There may indeed be a situation in which these systems are overwhelmed,” he said. “We certainly hope we don’t reach that point, but I think that if we reach that point, it would be extraordinarily dangerous, not only for Israel, but for Palestinians as well.”

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Streaks of light are seen Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, May 12, 2021

“What people don’t understand is that the Iron Dome system not only spares Israeli lives, but many Palestinian lives as well,” he said, suggesting that Israel can show more restraint because most incoming rockets are not making it through.

The IDF declined to comment on how Iron Dome affects the military’s strategic thinking, but IDF spokeswoman Capt. Libby Weiss told Insider that she thought that “we would be in a very different conflict” if Israel didn’t have Iron Dome.

“We are, of course, extremely grateful that it exists,” Mayer said. “We can only shudder to think about how many lives would have been lost if it didn’t.”

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An Iron Dome launcher fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip, in the coastal city of Ashkelon, July 5, 2014.

Ian Williams, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider that “the hope” with Iron Dome is that it will have a stabilizing affect.

“If you can alleviate the pressure from the rocket attacks through missile defense, it allows more space for diplomacy. It allows Israel to not send in troops so early. It slows the need for Israel to retaliate,” he said.

“The flip side of the coin is you can say that Iron Dome allows Israel to be much more aggressive because they can withstand Hamas rocket attacks,” Williams added, telling Insider that “it is hard to prove” which is the case.

Some of the rockets launched at Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have made it through Israel’s impressive defenses, with some rockets scoring direct hits on civilian centers.

In response to one recent strike on a neighborhood, the IDF stated that it “will not let this terror go unanswered.”

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Fire and smoke rise over in Gaza City after Israeli strikes, May 18, 2021.

Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes on targets in Gaza since the fighting began, resulting in both combatant and civilian casualties.

Scenes of destruction within Gaza coupled with the reports of civilian casualties recall the horrors of the 2014 Gaza War in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed. More than half were civilians.

An IDF spokeswoman previously told Insider that “when it comes to our practices in the strip, we are obviously very concerned about the impact on the civilian population within Gaza.”

The challenge, she explained, is that Hamas and other Palestinian militant forces operate in and around civilian infrastructure in a densely populated area, making it difficult for Israeli forces to target Hamas and ensure its own defense without occasionally negatively affecting civilians.

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Al-Sharouk tower is surrounded by fire and smoke as it collapses during an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, May 12, 2021.

International pressure is mounting as the death toll grows, with calls for a ceasefire becoming more frequent.

In a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that he “expected a significant de-escalation” and a move forward “on the path to a ceasefire,” according to a White House readout of the call.

In a subsequent statement, Netanyahu said that while he appreciates “the support of the American president,” but he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met,” with the aim being the return of “calm and security” to Israel.

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Astonishing footage filmed by a plane passenger shows Hamas rockets being intercepted mid-air by Israel’s Iron Dome

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Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts rockets fired from Gaza in a clip recording on board an El Flight on May 13.

  • A passenger on board an El Al flight captured Israel’s missile-defense system in action.
  • The clip shows rockets, fired from Gaza, being intercepted mid-air.
  • Over 2000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel since Monday, the IDF said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A passenger on board a flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv captured Israel’s advanced missile-defense system intercepting rockets on early Thursday morning, a viral video shows.

The passenger filmed the Iron Dome in action from his window seat on El Al flight LY332, aviation website Simple Flying reported.

The El Al flight was diverted due to the rocket fire, entering a holding pattern above Nablus in the occupied West Bank, before safely landing in Ramon Airport near Eilat, Simple Flying said.

In the astonishing clip, the Iron Dome can be seen firing interceptors at incoming missiles above Tel Aviv. Each flash of light represents a successful interception.

The Israeli missile-defense system has blocked some 90% of rockets fired by Hamas, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported on Thursday.

The Iron Dome’s algorithm has recently been adapted to counter Hamas’ attempts to overwhelm the system with a barrage of rockets, experts told The Economist.

Some 2000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday morning.

In response, Israeli fighter jets have hit targets in central Gaza. Palestinian fatalities from strikes on Gaza stand at more than 132, including 30 children, The Guardian reported. About 950 people have been injured, the paper added.

Eight people have died in Israel due to the rocket offensive, The Guardian said.

The region is facing its worst violence since the 50-day war in 2014, Insider reported.

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Video shows Iron Dome interceptors filling the sky as more than 100 rockets rain down on Israel

A rocket launched from Gaza city controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, is intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system, on May 11, 2021
A rocket launched from Gaza is intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, May 11, 2021.

  • The Israel Defense Forces released video of its Iron Dome system shooting down rockets Tuesday evening.
  • Hamas fired the rockets amid heightened tensions and fighting that has already killed dozens.
  • Longstanding tensions were recently stoked by planned evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Israel Defense Forces released a stunning video of its Iron Dome defense system filling the sky with interceptors as more than 100 rockets rained down on Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.

Tensions between Israel and Hamas spiked sharply this week as militants started firing rockets into Israel Monday evening, prompting Israel to retaliate with airstrikes. The fighting, which looks to be some of the most intense since a 2014 conflict, has already left dozens dead, the Associated Press reported.

Although there have been losses on both sides, the majority of the casualties have been on the Palestinian side. The dead have included both combatants and civilians.

During the fighting Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike hit a high-rise building. “We expect that this powerful attack on the high-rise building, which shook all of Gaza, will lead to extensive shooting toward Israel,” an IDF spokesperson said, according to Haaretz.

“The Al-Qassam Brigades has launched the largest missile strike on Tel Aviv and its environs, with 130 missiles, in response to the enemy’s targeting of civilian high-rises,” Hamas said in a statement Tuesday evening, The Times of Israel reported.

The IDF posted its defense of the city on Twitter.

Another angle of the defense of Tel Aviv was posted by a former IDF spokesperson.

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system is a counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) and short-range air defense system designed to intercept rockets and artillery. The system has been in use since 2011 and has helped reduce casualties from rocket attacks against Israeli cities.

The air defense system was developed by Israeli defense firms Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries with support from the US. It works alongside the David’s Sling and Arrow interceptors, which are in place to counter medium- and long-range threats.

It is a very effective system, with a reported success rate of more than 90%, but it is not impenetrable.

Late Monday, the IDF posted to its official Twitter account video of its defense against another Hamas rocket attack on Ashkelon.

The recent escalation in violence, coming during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is driven by a number of historic and immediate factors.

Longstanding territorial control issues remain at the center of much of the animosity, but more recently, the planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood located in East Jerusalem has stoked tensions and sparked demonstrations.

Prior to the latest exchange of fire, Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Police fired fired rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas in the compound, Reuters reported. While 21 officers were wounded, over 300 Palestinians were injured in the process, according to Palestine Red Crescent Society.

At least 28 people were killed by the Israeli airstrikes Tuesday, including 10 children and a woman, the Associated Press reported. At least three Israelis have been killed by the barrage of rockets fired by militant groups in Gaza, and at least 10 more were injured.

“Any loss of civilian life is deeply lamentable, whether it is an Israeli life or a Palestinian life. That is why we continue to call for calm, continue to call on all sides to de-escalate and exercise restraint,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned Israel would “increase both the intensity of the attacks and the rate of attacks.” In a later statement, he said that Hamas “will pay a very heavy price for their belligerence.”

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