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Congress Approves Aid to Israel for Tunnel Detection

May 4, 2015

“Blessed is everyone who blesses you,”  (Numbers 24:9)

On Wednesday, in the face of reports of ongoing tunnel digging in the Gaza Strip, the United States Congress has unanimously approved an amendment to defense legislation authorizing Iron Dome-style research and development for tunnel detection in Israel.

The R&D program for the development and testing of technologies will work to defeat this deadly threat to Israeli security.

“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,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement.  (JP)

IDF Paratroopers-Hamas Terrorism-Tunnel Networks-Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier enters a Hamas tunnel to disable its capacity to be used in acts of terrorism against Israel.

Hamas attacked Israel before and during Operation Protective Edge using bombs and tunnels.  At that time Israel discovered 32 tunnels, half of which entered into Israel.  

Hamas has already spent some $100 million in the reconstruction of tunnels, some of which are used to smuggle arms, food and supplies in the Strip.

One of the amendment’s sponsors, Congresswoman Gwen Graham said, “Every day, our closest ally in the Middle East—Israel—lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks launched from underground tunnels.”

Calling the amendment the US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act, Graham compared the initiative to the Iron Dome anti-missile project.

“Iron Dome has saved countless civilian lives, and I believe an anti-tunneling defense shield will save countless more,” she said.

Such a technology will also help allay the fears of residents along the northern border with Lebanon where it is believed Hezbollah may be preparing similar attack tunnels into Israeli villages.  (Times of Israel)

Iron Dome Israel IDF

The Israeli-engineered Iron Dome, which was first deployed in March 2011, is a purely defensive system. It was built to intercept and destroy rockets and artillery shells midair that are fired at Israel’s civilian areas.  Each missile the Iron Dome fires is reported to cost Israel $50,000.

The other sponsor of the amendment Congressman Douglas Lamborn (Republican) said that tunnels can be a threat to US embassies and that the new technology will also help the US.

The amendment, which was bipartisan, was passed by a unanimous vote during a marathon session of the House Armed Services Committee.

The amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act which already includes $474 million for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems (also called Magic Wand, designed to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles from Lebanon and Syria as well as Gaza).  (jns)

Israel and the US will share the cost of the project equally as is the case with already existing programs like the Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling systems.

The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has laid the groundwork for the joint program by approving it in an amendment to the annual defense bill.  The bill will now be sent to the House plenum where approval, including the amendment, is assured.

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