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February 3, 2016 3:59 pm

Israel Confirms Cooperation With US to Develop ‘Iron Dome’-Like Tunnel-Detecting System

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A Hamas terror tunnel uncovered on July 18, 2014, in the Gaza Strip. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

A Hamas terror tunnel uncovered on July 18, 2014, in the Gaza Strip. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s Ministry of Defense confirmed this week that the US is providing $120 million over the next three years to help develop an underground system for detecting tunnels that is being compared to the Iron Dome, The Financial Times reported.

Members of Israel’s military said the new system will be used by the Jewish state to uncover Hamas tunnels from Gaza to Israel, as well as those dug by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The US seeks to use the same technology to detect tunnels used by criminals to smuggle illegal immigrants or drugs across the Mexican border.

The Israeli companies Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which developed the Iron Dome missile-defense system, confirmed their participation in helping to develop the technology. An Israeli engineer briefed on details of the project said that 50-100 smaller companies are also involved in developing the underground system, according to The Financial Times.

“We do whatever we can to find a technological solution,” Major General Nitsan Alon, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ operations directorate, said at a briefing on Wednesday. He declined to disclose details about the technology, fearing that it would “help Hamas,” but said he thinks Hamas is “not ready for another fight against Israel.”

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Analysts said the technology being created will likely use sensors planted in the ground to gather information about the whereabouts of the tunnels, according to The Financial Times. Experts will then use algorithms to interpret the collected data. They said the difficulty is in finding tunnels that have already been built, rather than detecting tunnels as they are being constructed, which will be easier to find because of vibrations and sounds emanating from the digging process.

“The biggest problem is detecting a tunnel when it is already ready, and it is just a hole in the ground,” said Yiftah Shapir, an analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

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