The US gives Israel record military aid annually, and that aid is always growing. One of the biggest avenues for growth is funding for Israel’s missile defense systems. This year, Congress has committed $705 million to this scheme, up from just about $550 million last year.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement of thanks to the US Congress for the funding, saying that Israel’s enemies would be “surprised” at how good the missile defense systems work with all this money.
While US officials have often emphasized the money going to longer-range missile defense for Israel, in practice much of the money goes to extremely short-range Iron Dome system, which is useful primarily for shooting down the makeshift rockets from the Gaza Strip.
This has been costly, with Iron Dome interceptors costing $50,000 each, and shooting down trivially cheap pieces of metal. Israel wasted $1 million worth of these interceptors over the weekend when the system went off on its own and started firing wildly into the air.
No rockets hit, so some Israeli media concluded intercepts were “successful.” In reality, the Iron Dome system picked up some gunfire in Gaza, mistook the bullets for missiles, and just started firing like crazy. Israeli officials say this is “not a bug.”