May 21, 2010
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) voted in favor of the United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act (HR 5327), authorizing an appropriation of $205 million to enable Israel to deploy the Iron Dome Rocket System, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 410-4. The system is intended to help protect Israelis from missile attacks. In expressing her support for the bill, Maloney issued the following statement:

“Madam Speaker, I am proud to support the US-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act (HR 5327), to provide $205 million to support Israel’s deployment of the Iron Dome rocket defense system.

“Israel is our closest ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East, yet throughout its 62-year existence, it has been under attack from neighboring states and terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that deny its right to exist as a Jewish State. Funding for this program is consistent with America’s promise that there can be no space between the US and Israel when it comes to security. US-Israel cooperation is beneficial to both nations, particularly when we collaborate to develop advanced defense technologies like the Iron Dome rocket defense system.

“For nearly five years, Israelis were subjected to a rain of terror as nearly 8000 missiles were fired over the border from the Gaza Strip following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005, leading to a desperate effort by Israel to end the bombardment with Operation Cast Lead, which began on December 27, 2008. Large population centers like Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva were hit by rocket and mortar fire. Widely derided as ‘home-made’ by the international press, these bombs were deadly for those unlucky enough to be in the way. And they fell indiscriminately on homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. A four-year-old boy was killed at a nursery school in Sderot. Other rockets hit a school and a sports center in Ashkelon. Luck and a system of sirens and bunkers kept the death toll down, but thousands were injured and thousands more were traumatized by living with daily terror.

“Similarly, during the Lebanon War of 2006, residents of Northern Israel, including the city of Haifa, were subjected to a barrage of Katyusha rockets from Southern Lebanon. Nearly 4,000 of these rockets fell on Israel during the 5-week conflict.

“While incidents are fewer today, Israeli citizens along the border, particularly in the city of Sderot, continue to face occasional rocket fire. Evidence suggests that there are now at least as many rockets targeting Israel from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip as there were before Operation Cast Lead and the 2006 Lebanon War. And while the missiles do not fall regularly, they do fall. For example, on August 8, 2009, a rocket fired from Lebanon went through the roof of a nursing home in Nahariya in Israel, passing through several bedrooms and landing in the kitchen. By chance, the rocket hit while residents were on a lower level waiting for breakfast and there were only minor injuries and shock. Had residents been in their rooms, there would have been many deaths.

“Currently, the only defense is a warning siren that sounds 15 seconds before the bombs hit, allowing Israelis a few seconds to scramble for the nearest bomb shelter or safe room. That’s fifteen seconds of terror while mothers call frantically for their children and old people painfully try to make it to safety. For those who are bedridden, there’s merely the hope that the bombs will fall elsewhere.

“The best way to end terrorism is to render the terrorists powerless. Our $205 million will build a rocket defense system to give Israelis another form of self-defense. This defense system will advance the cause of peace by enhancing Israel’s ability to defend itself from attack. Instead of building stronger bunkers and better underground facilities, it gives Israelis the hope that the missiles can be destroyed before they hit. If the missiles cannot get through, then Israelis will not have to cower in their bunkers and basements and safe rooms. And perhaps their dreams of a lasting, secure peace will become a reality.

“Madam Speaker, I believe this funding offers hope to Israelis weary of terror, and reason for optimism for those who understand that peace is impossible without the promise of security. Accordingly, I strongly support HR 5327 and I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of it.”