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News, July 2014
Hagel Announces US Support for Israeli Conditions, Restocking of Israeli Ammunition Supplies, Additional Funding for the Iron Dome Missile Program, July 31, 2014
Hagel Urges Cease-fire in Israel-Gaza Conflict and Reiterates Support for Israel
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 –
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called for a humanitarian cease-fire that would lead to a permanent end to the fighting in Gaza as well as the disarmament of Hamas.
Pentagon Press Secretary NAVY Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel called for the cease-fire and expressed concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths as well as the loss of Israeli lives during a phone call today with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
Hagel uses exact Israeli terminology and conditions:
At the same time, Kirby said Hagel also reiterated U.S. support for Israel's security and its right to self defense and said that any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all (Palestinian resistance) groups.
Kirby said Minister Yaalon thanked Hagel for his support for the defense of Israel, in particular the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
US replenishes Israeli ammunition supplies while calling for ceasefire
Akhbar, Thursday, July 31, 2014
The United States confirmed Wednesday it had restocked Israel's supplies of ammunition, hours after condemning an Israeli attack on a United Nations school in Gaza.
But while both the White House and the State Department condemned the shelling of the UN-run school in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza in which at least 16 Palestinians were killed, neither would assign blame to staunch US ally Israel.
"Obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians seeking shelter in a UN facility," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged, in some of the toughest US comments since the start of the 23-day fighting in the Gaza Strip.
"Innocent Palestinians seeking refuge in these schools should not have shells dropped on them, should not come under attack."
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said Israeli forces had hit the school, which had been sheltering some 3,300 Palestinians.
But despite heated exchanges with reporters, Harf stressed that "we don't know for certain who shelled this school, we need to get all the facts."
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan also condemned "those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza" and warned of rising fears that thousands of Palestinians who have been told by Israel to leave their homes increasingly had nowhere to go in the blockaded narrow coastal strip.
UNRWA has reported finding rockets in two of its schools since the beginning of the Israeli assault, but specified that the schools where the weapons were hidden had not hosted any refugees.
US officials also warned that patience with "crazy" Israeli criticism of would-be-peacemaker John Kerry had snapped.
The Pentagon confirmed the Israeli military had requested additional ammunition to restock its dwindling supplies on July 20, with the US Defense Department approving the sale just three days later.
"The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
"This defense sale is consistent with those objectives."
Two of the requested munitions came from a little-known stockpile of ammunition stored by the US military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Zionist state. The War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel is estimated to be worth $1 billion.
The decision to provide ammunition to Israel could fuel controversy, coming just as Washington expresses growing concern about the deaths of more than 1,350 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, since the Israeli operation began on July 8.
Kirby said Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel told his Israeli counterpart that the United States was concerned about the deadly consequences of the spiraling conflict, including a "worsening humanitarian situation" in Gaza, and called for a ceasefire and end to hostilities.
He also renewed calls for the disarmament of Gaza's Hamas rulers and "all terrorist groups."
Relations between Israel and its staunch ally the United States have plunged in recent days after Kerry returned from a mission to the Middle East to try to broker a ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas militants.
Anonymous Israeli officials have hit out at Kerry's truce proposal, calling it "a strategic terrorist attack" and criticizing it for being a "Hamas wish-list" including moves to lift a long-standing Israeli blockade of Gaza while failing to address Israel's security concerns, such as Hamas rocket fire and a network of underground tunnels.
And on Tuesday a fabricated transcript of a call between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went viral on social media.
Stressing the "unprecedented" US support for the Zionist state, Harf hit out at Israeli elites' "offensive and absurd" claims that Kerry backs Hamas.
She rubbished the fake transcript as "complete crap," adding "there's clearly people... who are putting out false and defamatory and absurd information."
"I don't know what else you can assume about the intentions except that they're designed to hurt our relationship," she added.
Washington, which has provided billions in military aid to Israel, including funding the Iron Dome shield protecting the country from Hamas rockets, was "very committed" to the security of the Zionist state, which is "why these vicious attacks on the secretary are just crazy," she added.
And US lawmakers are working on a package of additional military support from Washington to commit $225 million for the Iron Dome missile defense shield.
More than 100 people died in Israeli strikes across Gaza Wednesday, medics said, including 17 at a crowded marketplace, sending the Palestinian toll from the 23 days of fighting to 1,363. At least 315 of those killed were under the age of 18.
On the Israeli side, the conflict has cost the lives of 56 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai laborer.
Pentagon Announces Support for Additional Iron Dome Funding for Israel
By: Washington Free Beacon Staff July 23, 2014, 3:42 pm
The Pentagon announced to congressional leaders that it supports Israel’s request for $225 million in additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defense program.
“The government of Israel has requested $225 million in additional U.S. funding for Iron Dome to accelerate production of Iron Dome components in Israel in order to maintain adequate stockpiles,” wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). “The Department of Defense has reviewed and supports this urgent request.”
Politico Pro reports:
The additional $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome, included in the Senate’s emergency supplemental funding bill, would bring the proposed total U.S. funding for the program this year to $576 million. Both the House and Senate Defense Appropriations bills would double the Pentagon’s $175 million 2015 budget request for the program, credited with stopping rockets fired from Gaza in the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. [...]
The additional funding for Iron Dome in this year’s congressional spending bills was tied to U.S. co-production of the missile defense system, but Hagel said the extra $225 million should be exempt from that requirement.
“Israel will continue to develop co-production of Iron Dome components in the United States,” Hagel wrote. “However, Israel assesses that it will take another two to three years to reach full production capacity in the United States, which would not address Israel’s current shortfall.”
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