The U.S. House Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to add funding for technology to thwart terror tunnels to a defense bill for Israel.
The amendment, which authorizes research and development of an anti-tunnel defense system to protect Israel from Palestinian terror attacks, was added to a National Defense Authorization Act that already includes $474 million in funds for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems.
“Our closest ally in the Middle East—Israel—lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks from underground tunnels,” said U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), who co-sponsored the amendment with U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.). “The U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act will launch an unprecedented new initiative to protect Israel from this dangerous menace. … Iron Dome has saved countless civilian lives, and an anti-tunneling defense shield will save countless more.”
Last summer, Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy Hamas’s vast tunnel infrastructure under the Israel-Gaza border, which the terror group used to launch attacks inside of Israel. The Jewish state lost 67 soldiers during the 50-day war. Recent reports indicate that Hamas has gained funding from Iran to reconstruct the terror tunnel network.
The bipartisan legislation was supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which said the anti-tunneling technology can also help the U.S. secure its own border with Mexico and protect American military bases.
“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 said in a statement.