December 13, 2018

Letters to the Editor: Reactions to Parkland, Missile Defense

Reactions to Parkland

Maimonides (1135-1204) never heard of a school shooting, but he understood the National Rifle Association (NRA) perfectly (“When Will It End?” Feb. 23).

Torah obligation in regard to sales of weapons: Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of a Murderer 12:12, paraphrasing Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah 15b) declares: “It is forbidden to sell weapons of war to [those with an inclination to violence]. Nor is it permitted to sharpen their spears, or to sell them knives, manacles, iron chains, bears, lions, or any object which can endanger the public; but it is permitted to sell them shields, which are only for defense.”

Maimonides explains that in selling arms to such a person, “One strengthens the hands of an evil-doer and causes him to transgress” and “Anyone who causes one who is [morally] blind … to stumble — or one who strengthens the hand of a person who is [morally] blind and does not see the path of truth because of the desire of his heart — violates a negative precept as Torah (Leviticus 19:14) states, ‘You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind.’ ”

Mitch Paradise, Los Angeles

First of all, the Second Amendment pertaining to the militia was really replaced by our police forces and the United States military.

Secondly, it takes two-thirds of the states to change a constitutional amendment and that will never happen over this issue. We have gone 242 years without a dictator in the United States.

All semi-automatic assault rifles should be limited to a six-round clip for public use.

Anyone who has been expelled from school, fired from a job, dishonorably discharged from the military or other similar situations, should automatically be put on a no-gun purchase list for two years. After that period, when applying, that person should be on a 30-day review and, if determined not a threat to society, be allowed to buy a weapon.

Schools should have at least one qualified licensed teacher with a semi-automatic handgun and a bullet-proof vest for every 10 classrooms unless all of the above laws are put into effect.

Joseph B.D. Saraceno, Gardena

Kudos to your editorial staff for the excellent commentaries from across a wide spectrum of highly regarded intelligent members of our community. They wrote about the ongoing situation whereby children and teachers are being shot in their schools. Each commentary deserves consideration toward resolving this ongoing “violent culture,” as Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin calls it.

As I read the various comments, it seems that the main argument against the changes needed to end gun violence is the interpretation of the Second Amendment. It reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The U.S. Congress, over time, has changed its definition of the term “militia” as related to the United States. It’s time for a definition more in line with what our nation needs today — clearly stated so as to leave no doubt.

The Second Amendment specifically limits the right to keep and bear arms to a well-regulated militia. The members of the NRA do not constitute a “well-regulated militia.”

This could well be a good start to rid our country of “the plague of gun violence,” as the Journal labels it in its cover story.

George Epstein, Los Angeles

I find little reason to think that the CIA, FBI, state and local police, psychologists and psychiatrists, family, friends, neighbors or schoolmates will ever be able to identify all among us who may, someday, perpetrate a mass shooting, and it’s clear that we’ll never have the resources to track and monitor those who are merely deemed suspicious.

The automatic rifles debate and failed regulations won’t change until our politicians climb out of the pocket of the NRA, and there’s scant likelihood of this happening anytime soon.

The 300 million-plus guns in which we’re awash won’t be confiscated and will continue to be easy to obtain, and the gun manufacturers aren’t planning to go out of business. Hunters, marksmen, hobbyists and those who own guns for self-protection shouldn’t have to fear that the government wants them.

The only solution I see for those who want to protect their loved ones is to escape.

Hal Rothberg via email

On April 20, there will be a National Action Day featuring numerous forums to protest what seems like an endless series of mass shootings.

I feel it is imperative that yeshivas reach out to their secular and religious brethren across faiths and participate in the day’s planned activities.

April 20 was selected because it is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, and thus the start of the murderous mayhem that has been continually visited upon our citizens. For Jews, April 20, 1889, has a sickening significance: It was the day Adolf Hitler was born, the genocidal maniac who was the architect of the Shoah.

We are commanded to not kill; we are obligated to perform acts of tikkun olam; and we choose as our task to be the promulgators of morals and values to the rest of the world.

What we cannot do, however, is depend on the conservative right, its white supremacist allies and the Republican lawmakers who have blocked and expunged every gun-regulation initiative unless it has the imprimatur of the NRA.

“Never again” is, unfortunately, a mantra that will be part of our political lexicon unless our vigilance is accompanied by direct and overt actions.

Marc Rogers, North Hollywood

Here’s a suggestion regarding guns from someone whose experiences make him worth listening to.

Former astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of shooting victim and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment.

He also supports the use of extreme-risk protection orders. This would have allowed law enforcement — had the FBI done its job — to remove the firearm owned by Nikolas Cruz while a determination was made regarding the likelihood that he would commit gun violence, as he expressly said he wished to do.

Julia Lutch via email

There is a very simple solution to the gun controversy as long as politics is removed from the discussion.

Stop blaming everyone except yourselves for shootings on school campuses. Take matters into your own hands and hire armed security guards responsible for school safety. Don’t expect the government or the police or laws to protect you. Do as the Israelis do. And as Ben Shapiro reminds us, “Every single government authority failed in Parkland. And they expect Americans to forfeit our self-defense rights to them?”

There can never be a guarantee that every attack can be thwarted, even if we would abolish the Second Amendment, placed by our Founding Fathers not to defend the public from burglars but to place controls on the new government. The bad guys will still get guns no matter the laws, and the good guys will be defenseless. Among the first things that a totalitarian state does is to confiscate weapons.

All the gun laws on the books would not have prevented any of the atrocities in recent years from happening. And, as is often said, the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I’ll bet that the last words on the lips of someone about to be executed by a terrorist is, “I pray that the guy next to me has a gun!”

C.P. Lefkowitz, Rancho Palos Verdes

Danielle Berrin’s column on guns and Isaiah Berlin is a wise and passionate plea for balance and moderation (“In America, Life Should Come Before Total Liberty,” Feb. 23).

Gun fanatics are ideologues. An ideologue is a person with an agenda, and that agenda trumps everything. It trumps facts, common sense, logic, intellectual honesty and reality. None of those things matters to an ideologue.

By definition, ideologues are extremists and they are found on both the left and the right. Moderates, on the other hand, are pragmatists. Their whole approach is about compromise and finding solutions.

In “The Righteous Mind,” Jonathan Haidt writes, “When a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it.” This is why Judaism teaches us that idolatry is wrong and dangerous. Only ideologues and extremists engage in idolatry. It’s the NRA’s idolatry of assault weapons that led to the slaughters in Las Vegas and Parkland.

The true path to healing the world is to follow the calm and measured voices of moderates, not the loud and angry voices of ideologues and extremists.

Michael Asher via email

Dear Ms. Berrin: As Benjamin Franklin noted, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” accusations of contextomy by Benjamin Wittes and Gregory Ferenstein, notwithstanding.

Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach

Buoyed by Missile Defense

As Larry Greenfield wrote (Blessings of Missile Defense,” Feb. 16), missile defense has detractors, like letter writer Steve Daniels, who admitted that the Iron Dome system works in Israel and that scientific advancements in the U.S. are proceeding, as well.

Recently, Israel conducted a successful flight test of its new Arrow 3 missile defense interceptor. The Israeli Defense Ministry stated the test was a full military scenario.

I choose Greenfield’s positive vision and the proven successes of missile defense over the cynicism that motivates critics to label this life-saving technology a “boondoggle” for defense contractors. Israeli children would beg to differ.

Karen Reissman via email

Letters to the Editor: Poland Holocaust Bill, Gun Violence, #MeToo and Hamilton’s Jewish Identity

Poland’s Controversial Holocaust Bill

Poland’s new law rewriting its World War II history about not having any involvement in creating concentration camps in their country is a lie. Three million Polish Jews died in their Polish camps, and Polish people were involved in helping the Germans. They pointed out Jewish homes, where the Germans took whatever they wanted, and they helped with building and running the concentration camps. And when 40 Jewish survivors came back in Kielce to claim their homes and businesses after the war, the Polish people killed them. This was going on in most cities in Poland if you dared to come home after being liberated.

This is an unfair law to pass in a country that was deeply involved in killing so many Jews. I know because I was there. I am a witness and I am a survivor.

Ella Mandel via email

No Solutions to Preventing Gun Violence

I find little reason to think that the CIA, FBI, state and local police, psychologists and psychiatrists, family, friends, neighbors or schoolmates will ever be able to identify all among us who may, someday, perpetrate a mass shooting, and it’s clear that we’ll never have the resources to track and monitor even those who are deemed suspicious.

The semi-automatic rifles debate and failed regulations won’t change until our politicians climb out of the pocket of the National Rifle Association, and there’s scant likelihood of this happening anytime soon.

The 300 million-plus guns in which we’re awash won’t be collected and will continue to be easy to obtain, and the gun manufacturers aren’t planning to go out of business.

Hunters, marksmen, hobbyists and those who own guns for self-protection shouldn’t have to fear that the government wants them.

The only solution I see for those who want to protect their loved ones and others is to move to another country, preferably one that isn’t rife with terrorists.

Hal Rothberg via email

A Dangerous Escalation Among Nations

One is cordially reminded of that ol’ shibboleth: “The more things change, the more they stay the same (“Down Payment,” Feb. 16).

It’s all very complicated, but is that still not true?

Walter Uhrman, Encino

Seeing the Light of Southern California

As a native Angeleno from Boyle Heights, it was an absolute joy to read Karen Lehrman Bloch’s piece “Seduced by the Light of Los Angeles” (Feb. 16). Especially when all one needs to do to encounter the opposite sentiment is to visit or live some 500 miles to the north of us in San Francisco, as I did to attend college in the late ’60s and early ’70s. In “The City,” as many San Franciscans like to call it, you dare not mention you are from L.A. for fear of having them look down their collective noses at you, after which you’ll invariably be the recipient of some snide remark about our great city.

Thank you, Ms. Lehrman Bloch.

Marc Yablonka via email

Can Truth Survive?

Thanks so much, Shmuel Rosner, for the excellent analysis of the Rand Corp. study about truth decay and the great conclusion at the end of your article (“Truth Decay,” Feb. 9). I would like to just add a couple of things: From my observation, I think more and more people look for the truth in the wrong place — outside of themselves — and so become addicted to collecting more and more information. And second: It doesn’t matter how much information or knowledge or richness one has. What truly matters is what he or she does with them. But both my remarks only reinforce your great conclusion “that we no longer know what’s true and what’s not.”

Svetlozar Garmidolov, Los Angeles

For the people who endure blood libels, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and college campus apartheid walls, do we really need the Journal to explore the “modern” decay of truth?

While I agree with Shmuel Rosner about “leaving [President Donald] Trump [and his hyperbole] aside,” why trace the beginning of the end of the era of truth to 2014 when former Vice President Al Gore provides such a better example? In 2007, British High Court Judge Michael Burton ruled that Gore’s global warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” while “broadly accurate,” contained nine significant errors in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration.” Burton found that the film was a partisan political view and that its “apocalyptic vision” was not an impartial analysis of climate change. Happily, we have your Journal as a beacon of truth.

Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach

American Presidents and Jewish Values

Gil Troy, in his story about presidents (“Why Jews Love Presidents [Most of the Time],” Feb. 16) reflects the message and mindset of the mainstream fake news, liberal left media in trying to provide some confirmation to support the bias of Jewish Democrats toward the Democratic Party, notwithstanding the fact that only 27 percent of Democrats support Israel and 79 percent of Republicans support Israel. He refers to Republican support for Israel as giving it a toxic embrace. If that weren’t enough, he then bashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alienating American Jewry.

He tries to give some emotional support to Democratic Jews who dislike President Donald Trump by consoling them as not being one-issue voters. The underlying premise of his story is that Jews can be patriotic Americans and hate Trump. He is oblivious to the fact that Trump is the best president for Israel and American Jews with the possible exception of Harry Truman, who recognized Israel 12 minutes after the formation of the state.

The events of this past week have proven that Gil Troy and the mainstream media are acting in conspiracy with the liberal left, mostly Jew-hating Democratic establishment.

Marshall Lerner, Beverly Hills

Obama and #IranianWomenToo

Kudos to David Suissa for his column “Obama and #IranianWomenToo” (Feb. 16). I continue to be unable to wrap my Jewish, pro-Israel mind around the fact that liberal American Jewish Democrats don’t get it that Barack Obama, through the Iranian deal and more, was Israel and American Jewry’s worst nightmare in decades. The only fault that I found in Suissa’s column was the omission of two words: John Kerry.

Marc Yablonka via email

A Conversion With Eyes Wide Open

In last week’s letters to the editor, Peter Robinson wrote that he knowingly chose to convert to non-Orthodox Judaism, and now rails at the unfairness that his heterodoxic theology and practice of Judaism is denied legitimacy by the Orthodox branch he consciously avoided. Ironically, he appeals to a rabbi whose branch of Judaism is likewise not recognized by Orthodoxy. You can’t join one club and expect reciprocity from a club with much stricter membership requirements.

Zev Newman, Los Angeles

The Problems of a Missile Defense

Regarding Larry Greenfield’s column, “Blessings of Missile Defense” (Feb. 16):

1.  Even if the systems deployed by Israel are of limited utility, Greenfield expands his argument to include missile defense against intercontinental missiles (ICBMs), which is actually destabilizing rather than protective. If an adversary believes that an anti-missile system deployed against it is operational and effective, that adversary will indeed be more rather than less likely to use its ICBMs first in a crisis, fearing that it will be attacked and then left defenseless to retaliate.

2.  Greenfield is correct that “decades of startling scientific and technological advancements” have resulted in deployment of anti-missile systems in the U.S. (Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, for one), but he fails to note that even in “rigged” tests, when the timing and location of dummy attacking missiles is made known and no decoys are used, U.S. anti-missile tests have failed at least 50 percent of the time. The system is simply a boondoggle for defense contractors. “Missile defense doesn’t promise perfection” is a gross and dangerous understatement.

Steve Daniels via email

Hamilton’s Jewish Identity Debated

After reading your story on Hamilton several times, I brought it to share with the Freda Mohr Senior Center Current Events Discussion Group (“Was Alexander Hamilton Jewish?” Feb. 16). Being Jewish, I was pleased that Hamilton, one of our country’s honored founders, seemed to have been Jewish.

However, one of our members had extensively researched this matter. He agrees that the information that was presented about Hamilton is correct as far as it goes, but much has not been included that would likely lead to a different conclusion.

His mother, named Rachel Faucette, probably was not Jewish. She had been married off to a wealthy Jewish man, whom she left after several years. A few years later, she gave birth to Alexander Hamilton, whose father was James Hamilton — apparently not Jewish. Furthermore, the school he attended may have not been “a Jewish school.” It had a teacher who taught a class with some aspects of Judaism, including the Ten Commandments in Hebrew.

In the final analysis, the panelists at the Feb. 7 event might have looked at some circumstantial information with a biased, prejudged viewpoint.

George Epstein via email    

Blessings of Missile Defense

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Iran broke the seal on its conflict with Israel last week. Instead of using one of its many terror proxies to attack Israel, it went solo, mano a mano, by launching a probing, unmanned drone into Israel that the Israel Defense Forces were forced to take down. An Israeli jet was destroyed in the skirmishes that followed. This is an ominous escalation of a growing, tense conflict between Israel and Iran.

With Iran so embedded on Israel’s border, Israelis must prepare to defend against not only medium-range missiles fired from mountain bunkers in Syria, but also the potential threat that Tehran might directly join the assault on the Jewish state with its own longer-range arsenal.
So, while American defense planners concentrate on rising tensions with “the loco in NoKo,” the IDF has its hands full as Iranian allies Syria and Russia provide air defenses against prospective Israeli air force strikes on deeply buried underground sites launching missiles into Tel Aviv.

The answer to that challenge is the ever improving success of missile defense.

President Ronald Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative 35 years ago, challenging the immorality of the policy of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) of any nation whose government launched a first-strike nuclear attack against the United States or our treaty allies. The MAD doctrine threatened millions of civilians under tyranny, likely deterring U.S. counter-strikes, not the Soviet “Evil Empire.”

Instead, Reagan proposed a more prudential course to deter war and to increase our national security capability, via an integrated and layered architecture of networked sensors and ground- and sea-based detection radars and interceptor missiles seeking “hit to kill,” or explosive blast fragmentation, of enemy warheads.

Liberal critics mocked Reagan’s vision as “Star Wars,” proclaiming “a bullet cannot hit a bullet.” They were wrong. And they continue to fret that missile defense is “flawed, imperfect and expensive.”

But decades of startling scientific and technological advancements have resulted in ballistic missile defense elements now operated by United States military personnel at U.S. Strategic, Northern, Pacific and European commands and U.S. Forces Japan.

Detractors rarely note that Israelis sleep under the proven protection of the Iron Dome.

Missile defense doesn’t promise perfection. But detractors rarely note that Israelis sleep under the proven protection of the Iron Dome, and the steadily developing David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense systems funded, developed and tested in cooperative ventures with the United States.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities track rocket and missile threats proliferating from a dangerous array of national and nonstate terror actors projecting power in regional and strategic contexts and featuring potential new countermeasures such as hypersonic glide vehicles and varying trajectories to make short, medium, intermediate and intercontinental range missile threats more complex, survivable, reliable and accurate.

Defense analysts consider Iranian and North Korean missile accuracy, range and lethality of particular concern.

Iran threatens maritime activity throughout the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz and has famously inscribed the slogan “Death to Israel” on missiles featured at military parades.  Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles provides Tehran with the means and motivation to improve their submunition payloads as they continue to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

North Korea has expanded the sophistication and range of its ballistic missile forces with an unprecedented level of nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. When a state employee in Hawaii accidentally created a false alarm, citizens and tourists experienced the existential threats humanity faces from rogue regimes such as North Korea, which might blackmail the West with threats to shut down the American electrical grid with an EMP attack over the U.S. continental homeland.

In the age of missiles, robust, operational and position-optimized missile defense systems are mandatory for the U.S. and Israel to deter and defend against any potentially imprudent, irrational or ideological adversary.

Larry Greenfield is a fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy.

House increases funding for Israel’s missile defense

The U.S. House of Representatives increased funding for Israel’s missile defense systems.

Included in the House’s Defense Appropriations Bill approved last week is $351 million for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which is $175 million more than was requested in President Obama’s 2015 budget and $131 million more than funding in the 2014 fiscal year.

The bill also included $270 million for the Arrow 3 and David’s Sling systems, an increase of $172 million over both the Obama administration’s request and fiscal year 2014 funding.

In April, Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) sent a letter to the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense seeking support for an increase in funding for the Iron Dome, Arrow 3 and David’s Sling programs.

Iron Dome intercepts short-range rockets. The Arrow weapons system defends against medium-range ballistic missiles, and the Arrow 3 and David’s Sling target multi-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

“With missiles regularly fired at Israel from Gaza, and the ongoing threat of Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, it is critical that the United States continue its commitment to stand by our ally Israel,” Meng said.

The budget measure must pass the Senate before Obama can sign it into law.

Is Obama increasing or slashing funding for Israeli missile defense?

Has the Obama administration vastly increased its funding for Israel’s missile defense, or has it slashed it?

A number of recent news stories, statements from Republicans and a query from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are saying that the White House wants to cut funding for missile defense.

At the same time — and just before the latest barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel — the Pentagon last weekend announced a huge increase in funding for the Iron Dome program, designed to rebuff short-range attacks.

So what’s the answer?

It depends first of all on what one includes in “missile defense.”

If one includes Iron Dome, then funding has gone up, and then some. The Missile Defense Agency announced March 8 that it was hiking its assistance to Israel for procuring Iron Dome batteries from $176 million for fiscal year 2015 to $429 million, available immediately. (Islamic Jihad launched the rocket attacks on March 12.) That’s $118 million more than the $301 million Israel had reportedly requested for Iron Dome.

If one does not include Iron Dome … Wait a sec. Why should one not include Iron Dome? Rockets are missiles, and Iron Dome intercepts them, right?

The difference is not one of technology but of budgeting. Iron Dome, like the $3.1 billion Israel gets in defense assistance, is purely assistance. Funding for anti-missile programs like Arrow and David’s Sling is cooperation — both the United States and Israel fund and carry out the development of the programs. The U.S. has a proprietary stake in missile cooperation programs; it does not in Iron Dome.

So, if one does not include Iron Dome, it’s true, the White House is asking Congress to reduce funding for missile defense cooperation, but not assistance.

More accurate, however, would be to say that the Obama administration is continuing a longstanding tradition of presidents lowballing requests for missile cooperation funding.

Obama in his 2015 budget, as the Washington Free Beacon first reported, asked for $96.8 million for missile cooperation, about a million more than it had asked the year previous –- but $190 million less than Congress had allocated that year.

That last clause is key:  Congress has for years substantially upped the presidential “ask.” Here are three examples from the administration of President George W. Bush, in 20022005 and 2007.

So what gives? Well, this ain’t an Obama thing, or a Bush thing. It’s a pork thing.

As this “Breaking Defense” account bemusedly notes, Israeli requests to Congress to increase such funding “helpfully” note which U.S. states will benefit from the asks. The funding is not just about assisting Israel but about keeping and creating U.S jobs.

A lowball presidential request for Israel funding allows lawmakers to decide where to add spending, which means greater flexibility in deciding where the money goes. And spending U.S. assistance dollars for Israel inside the United States has always been a key component of such assistance.

As a Pentagon spokesman told me when I asked about the Iron Dome increase, “Significantly enhanced levels of co-production by U.S. industry in the United States is a new stipulation under the agreement.”

House committee triples missile funding, seeks role in Iron Dome

The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Service Committee tripled President Obama’s request for missile defense collaboration with Israel and sought to include the United States in Iron Dome development.

The increase in the National Defense Authorization Act from $96 million to $284 million referred from the committee in a 59-2 vote June 6 to the full House includes an additional $15 million in funding for Iron Dome, the short range anti-missile program Israel used against Hamas last November during the Gaza war.

The stipulation in that increase, in an amendment proposed by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), is that it “may be obligated or expended for enhancing the capability for producing the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program in the United States, including for infrastructure, tooling, transferring data, special test equipment, and related components.”

Unlike other missile defense collaborative programs, such as the Arrow, Israel until now has maintained propriety over Iron Dome.

A number of lawmakers in Congress have sought to involve the United States in Iron Dome’s development as the United States increases funding for the program.

Moneys for missile defense collaboration are separate from the average $3 billion annually in defense assistance Israel gets from the United States.

Israel calls test of Arrow 3 missile defense system successful

Israel said it conducted a successful live test of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile defense system.

The first flight test of the Arrow 3 was conducted Monday at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea by Israel's Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Israel's Defense Ministry announced in a statement.

The Arrow 3 interceptor was designed to provide an additional level of defense against ballistic missiles, add interception opportunities to the joint U.S.-Israel Arrow weapons system and improve Israel's defenses against missile threats, according to the Defense Ministry

Other Israeli anti-missile defense systems include Arrow 2, Iron Dome and David's Sling.

Iron Dome intercepts more rockets over Tel Aviv, as Netanyahu says IDF prepared to expand operation

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of two missiles fired at the Tel Aviv area.

The missiles fired on Sunday morning, the fifth day of what the Israeli military has dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, mark at least four missiles fired from Gaza at one of Israel's major population centers.

Shrapnel from the intercepted missile, which Hamas reportedly took responsibility for firing, set a car on fire in Holon, located on the outskirts of southern Tel Aviv. The driver was able to exit the car without injury. Hamas identified the long-range missiles as an M75-type rocket, which it said is manufactured in Gaza.  School has not been cancelled in the Tel Aviv area, but remains closed in the south,

At least three Israelis were injured Sunday morning from rocket shrapnel, and several homes and buildings in southern Israel were hit with either missiles or shrapnel.

The Israel Defense Forces reported that it successfully attacked dozens of rocket launchers in Gaza overnight Saturday “causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations,” according to the IDF spokesman's office. The IDF also reported that it targeted two Hamas operational communication sites, saying they were identified by “precise intelligence.” The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that six journalists were wounded in the strikes. The IDF warned international journalists and correspondents working in Gaza “to stay clear of Hamas' bases and facilities- which serve them in their activity against the citizens of Israel.”

Some 50 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians, have been killed and hundreds injured since Operation Pillar of Defense began, according to Ma'an. Three Israelis were killed last week when a rocket from Gaza struck their apartment building and dozens have been injured and treated for shock and anxiety,

Israel's Cabinet on Sunday morning approved an allocation of nearly $2 million in order to complete the financing of building protected daycare centers in communities within up to nearly five miles from the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the regular weekly Cabinet meeting that the IDF “is prepared for a significant expansion of its operation.” The IDF has attacked over 1,000 “terrorist targets” in Gaza and is continuing its operation, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu said he would continue Sunday to speak to world leaders and emphasize “the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel.”

Meanwhile, four cruise ships carrying 6,000 passengers decided not to disembark in Israel as a result of the warning sirens in Jerusalem over the weekend, reported Doron Sheffer of Israel Radio. A rocket fell Friday evening near a Palestinian village in Gush Etzion, located south of Jerusalem

Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Nov. 14, more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israeli territory, according to the IDF. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted more than 270 rockets from Gaza since Nov. 14.

Egypt reportedly is continuing to try to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and other Gaza terror factions. Netanyahu reportedly has said that he would stop the assault on Gaza if the rocket fire and attacks on soldiers at the border ceases, and will not restart in a matter of weeks.

Lawmakers see U.S. rights to Iron Dome

Advisory language attached to a bill that would fund an expansion of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system seeks U.S. proprietary rights.

The Strategic Forces subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives this week approved $680 million in funding for the short-range anti-missile system.

The Hill newspaper reported that the “report” accompanying the bill advises that U.S. officials seek rights to the technology.

The United States maintains proprietary rights to other missile defense systems it shares with Israel.

Report language is not obligatory, although it often shapes how federal officials carry out policy.

The Obama administration gave Israel $205 million in 2009 on top of its $3 billion defense assistance to help launch the system.

President Obama’s original budget proposal had no funding request for the missile defense system, but in recent weeks Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, citing its success in repelling barrages of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip earlier this year, said the administration would agree to additional funding.

In March, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the Iron Dome Support Act, which authorized the president to provide additional assistance to the missile defense program.

The legislation has garnered 74 co-sponsors.

Record amount approved for U.S.-Israel missile defense program

The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee awarded the highest-ever level of funding to the joint U.S.-Israel missile defense program Wednesday.

The subcommittee appropriated $235.7 million in funding for the coming year.

In a statement, committee member Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) said it was “a mark of importance” of the three joint defense programs – Arrow 2, Arrow 3 and David’s Sling – that they were given such high funding during the current economic climate.

“The growing proliferation and increasing deadliness of missiles and rockets around the world – including those possessed by dangerous regimes such as the one headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and President Bashar al-Assad in Syria – pose a direct threat to U.S. national security,” Rothman said. “Funding these new technologies serves our interests in the volatile Middle East, and wherever America’s troops and citizens are stationed.”

Funding for such cooperative ventures is separate from the $3 billion in U.S. defense assistance Israel receives each year.