With the success of Iron Dome and in the face of new security threats, Congress representatives announced a joint defense project with Israel to counter terror tunnels.

US lawmakers announced on Tuesday their proposal for a new project, in collaboration with Israel, to develop defenses against the threat posed by terror tunnels, which have plagued Israel’s south and have already brought about the death of several Israelis.

Representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) announced the US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act to authorize research and development of an anti-tunneling defense system.

“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.”

The US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act is similar to the 2011 legislative authorization for the highly successful Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System, which has stopped more than 1,200 rockets from hitting Israel.

Emulating Iron Dome Success

“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.”

According to the statement, Hamas spent nearly $100 million to construct tunnels for smuggling weapons, money and supplies into Gaza, as well as launching terrorist attacks within Israel’s borders. In 2006, Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit through a tunnel and held him for five years, and in the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israel Defense Forces discovered 32 tunnels, 14 of which crossed directly into Israel.

“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.”

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.”

By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel