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April 29, 2015 5:09 pm

Joint US-Israeli Anti-Tunneling Research Added to Defense Budget

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

An Israeli soldier uncovers a Gaza terror tunnel during last summer's Gaza war. . Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Bipartisan bills allocating funds to joint U.S.-Israeli research and development of anti-tunneling technology were added to this year’s defense budget by a unanimous voice vote at the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, the Algemeiner has learned.

The projects authorized by the amendment, which was added to the National Defense Authorization Act, will seek to develop an anti-tunneling defense system that can protect Israel from terrorist attacks via tunnels, such as those carried out by Hamas in last summer’s war between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas.

The defense technology could also be used to safeguard American military bases, and U.S. national borders with Mexico and Canada, the legislation’s authors said.

The amendment combines segments from bills put forward by U.S. Representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

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“Our closest ally in the Middle East – Israel – lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks from underground tunnels,” Rep. Graham said. “The US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act will launch an unprecedented new initiative to protect Israel from this dangerous menace. To secure peace, we must first help Israel secure their state from attacks. Iron Dome has saved countless civilian lives, and an anti-tunneling defense shield will save countless more.”

The Israel Defense Forces discovered 32 terror tunnels during last summer’s conflict between Hamas and the Jewish state. Fourteen of those tunnels crossed directly into Israel.

Lamborn called tunnels an “age-old threat that have re-emerged in a very dangerous way.” Following successful attempts by Hamas to use tunnels for terrorist attacks, it is only a matter of time before terrorists elsewhere also use tunnels for terror, he said.

Lamborn added that tunnels are already a “serious threat” on the U.S.’s southern border as well as American bases and embassies around the world.

“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,” he said.

Directors of government affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) endorsed the Lamborn-Graham legislation and said it promotes “real cooperation and cost-sharing between Washington and Jerusalem on this key challenge.”

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