US-Israel anti-tunnel project gets initial approval by Congress

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill (NDAA) that would allow the US and Israel to develop an “anti-tunneling system.”

Representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), sponsors of the US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act to authorize research and development of an anti-tunneling defense system, announced on March 29 their proposal for a new project, in collaboration with Israel, to develop defenses against the threat posed by terror tunnels.

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“Every day, our closest ally in the Middle East – Israel – lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks launched from underground tunnels,” Graham said in a statement.

“The US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act will authorize an unprecedented new initiative to protect Israel from this dangerous threat.

“This past summer, Iron Dome, the joint US-Israel developed technology, saved thousands of Israeli citizens’ lives,” Lamborn said. “Now Hamas and other terrorist groups are taking to the underground tunnels. This is a challenge not only to Israel, but to the US as well. I hope that this cooperation with Israel will emulate the success of Iron Dome so that we can find a solution that will protect American and Israeli lives,” the statement also said.

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“To secure peace, we must first help Israel secure their state from terrorist attacks,” Graham stated. “Iron Dome has saved countless civilian lives, and I believe an anti-tunneling defense shield will save countless more.”

Rep. Lamborn added, “Tunnels are an age-old threat that have re-emerged in a very dangerous way. We know that if Hamas has used tunnels in successful terrorist attacks, it is only a matter of time before terrorists elsewhere use tunnels as well. Tunnels are a threat to American bases and embassies around the world, and are already a serious threat on our own southern border. For all these reasons, it only makes sense to partner with Israel, like we have done on missile defense, to learn with them about how to defend against tunnels.”

The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In addition to helping Israel secure its borders, the anti-tunneling defense technology discovered in this joint project could also be used to protect US military bases and borders.

“This bill, which authorizes research, development and test activities between the United States and Israel in order to better detect and destroy these tunnels, will help both the United States and Israel defend against future threats emanating from tunnels,” AIPAC’s directors of government affairs wrote in an endorsement letter. “This bill promotes real cooperation and cost-sharing between Washington and Jerusalem on this key challenge.”