Should the United States Fund Israel’s Iron Dome?

Iron Dome funding recently hit headlines when progressive Democrats had it removed from an emergency bill needed to keep the US government running. The removal of $1 billion for replenishment and development of Israel’s Iron Dome was at first glance a major blow, but within hours, the US Congress passed another bill allowing for this expenditure. Nevertheless, we thought it a good opportunity to discuss how important US funding of the Iron Dome system is.

What Is Iron Dome?

Iron Dome is the most effective battle-proven, short-range missile defense system in the world. Developed by Israel, it has intercepted more than 4,000 rockets fired by terrorists at Israeli population centers with over a 90% success rate. Were it not for this astonishing defense system, the Gaza-based terror groups would have reduced Israel to rubble in recent years and killed millions of civilians.

Three components make up the system: radar to detect the incoming rocket’s launch and track its trajectory, a control center to calculate the impact point and if a populated area is threatened, and if so, an interceptor missile that fires to destroy the incoming rocket before it reaches the predicted impact area. Each launcher, containing 20 interceptors, is operated remotely via a secure wireless connection.

The Cost

One Iron Dome battery costs roughly $50 million, and each interceptor missile fired costs around $150,000. Since 2011, the United States has invested over $1.7 billion in Israel’s Iron Dome system. This investment not only saved millions of lives but billions of dollars in infrastructure damage had the incoming missiles not been destroyed.

Moral Defense

The Iron Dome has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the US government because it is a defensive system designed to save lives despite terrorists’ best attempts to kill them. It is the first line of defense against the war crime of indiscriminate rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians. The successful missile defense system also saves Palestinian lives because the lack of Israeli casualties means Israel’s leaders have less pressure to escalate their military response.

Increasing Need for Missile Defense

While most rocket attacks thus far have been from terrorists in Gaza, Israel’s most pressing future threat comes from the north. Hezbollah’s extensive arsenal includes an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles capable of reaching every part of Israel.

Military planners estimate Hezbollah will be able to launch thousands of rockets per day in a future conflict. In the recent conflict in Gaza, Hamas fired more than a hundred rockets at once in an effort to overwhelm the Iron Dome. While the defense system handled the barrage successfully, a simultaneous barrage attack in the future from both north and south could pose a problem.

Israel also faces rocket and drone threats from Iranian-backed forces in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

The US Benefit

Parts of the system are built in facilities across the United States, helping to create American jobs. The system’s deployment and improvement, with US funding, also helps develop technology that can be used to defend Americans. Already the US Army has purchased two Iron Dome batteries to protect American troops positioned in troubled areas around the globe.

It is clear the US Congress should continue support to replenish and develop Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director
Publish Date: 
Friday, October 22, 2021