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Obama seeks U.S. military aid to Israel

Israeli soldiers stand in formation during a ceremony marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on May 12, 2010. Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of Israel's capture of the Eastern part of the city during the 1967 Middle East War. Israel annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally. UPI/Baz Ratner/Pool
Israeli soldiers stand in formation during a ceremony marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on May 12, 2010. Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of Israel's capture of the Eastern part of the city during the 1967 Middle East War. Israel annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally. UPI/Baz Ratner/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama wants Congress to OK $205 million to help Israel enhance its short-range rocket defense system, a White House official says.

The aid would go toward Israel's so-called Iron Dome defensive shield that would be capable of intercepting mortars and rockets fired by militants in Gaza and southern Lebanon, the BBC reported Friday. Testing has been completed and installation is to begin this year, the BBC said.

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Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Friday a White House spokesman said Obama has reaffirmed the administration's strong commitment to Israel's security.

"The president recognizes the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel's short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the funding will expand what Israel "can produce and deploy, and how quickly they're able to do it," The Daily Telegraph reported.

U.S. State Department figures show Israel received $2.55 billion in U.S. aid last year, with levels to ratchet up to $3.15 billion by 2018.

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