Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a joint press conference discussing the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system and the strong US-Israel relationship. Barak explained that the Iron Dome system, which was contributed to by the United States after President Barack Obama took office in 2009, prevented another drawn-out conflict with Hamas. He said that the system allowed the IDF time to research and target weapons stockpiles while avoiding Israeli casualties. Panetta also presented Barak with the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Public Service Award—its highest civilian honor.
Both men praised the Obama Administration’s support throughout the conflict as well as its dedication to Israel’s security. Click here or on the video box above to watch the full press conference.
Highlights from Panetta’s remarks:
‘This spring, we announced that we would provide $70 million in fiscal 2012 on top of the $205 million previously appropriated to meet Israel’s needs for that fiscal year. And we will obviously continue to work together to seek additional funding to enable Israel to boost Iron Dome’s capacity further and to help prevent the kind of escalation and violence that we’ve seen.’
‘The events of the past month underscore something that the Israeli prime minister said, and I have said, that Iron Dome does not start wars. It helps prevent wars.’
Highlights from Barak:
‘It reflected itself once again during the last operation in the Gaza, where Iron Dome really changed the landscape of the conflict and enabled us to act forcefully within a short timeframe, trying to hit the target that should be hit, but minimize the damage to civilians on the other side, while our population, 1.2 million, is continuously shelled by rockets and missiles from the Gaza Strip.
And those Iron Dome batteries could not be deployed on time without the direct and urgent support that you gave us, Secretary Panetta, backed by the—by President Obama on one side and the Congress on the other side, and being executed on time.’
‘The security relationship, as well as the intelligence relationship between our two countries, has never been so close, and they were strengthened a lot during the terms of Bob Gates in the past and now with Secretary Leon Panetta, and, of course, President Obama, and we are highly thankful for this.’
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta presents Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak with the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest honor that the Secretary of Defense can bestow a foreign leader, during a press conference at the Pentagon, Nov. 29, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta presents Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak with a framed picture from his visit to one of Israel’s Iron Dome sites in August 2012 during a press conference at the Pentagon, Nov. 29, 2012. DOD photo by Erin Kirk-Cuomo
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