WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of House members introduced on Monday legislation to support Israel’s anti-tunnel efforts. The lawmakers, Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado), Kathy Manning (D-North Carolina), and August Pfluger (R-Texas), announced the new bill, named The United States-Israel Anti-Tunnel Cooperation Extension Act, “to extend efforts to bolster Israel's ability to detect, map, and eliminate tunnels used by terrorist organizations to support and launch terrorist attacks against Israel.”
If signed into law, it would extend the Department of Defense’s authorization to carry out research, development, testing, and evaluation of anti-tunnel capabilities on a joint basis with Israel, the group said in a statement. “Foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Hizballah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have used underground tunnels to launch rockets, cache weapons, and smuggle terrorist trainers, among other actions that threaten the security of Israel,” they explained.
“For too long, tunnel networks have been used by terrorist organizations to threaten the safety and security of our strongest regional ally Israel," Schneider said in a statement. “This bill extends cooperation between the United States and Israel to develop anti-tunnel technology and strategies which can then be deployed to both defend Israel, improve the United States' own border security, and hopefully someday help other allies who face similar threats.”
“I am very pleased to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this legislation and continue the important tradition of bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship,” he added.
Rep. Lamborn said that the bill was “critical to the national security needs” of both the US and Israel. “Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have used underground tunnels to smuggle illicit materials, kidnap Israeli citizens, and hold civilians at risk by digging tunnels underneath densely populated areas,” he said in a statement. “This legislation builds on work that I have led over the past decade to stop these atrocities from occurring and defend Israeli lives by detecting, mapping, and neutralizing underground tunnels.”
Rep. Pfluger noted that terrorist organizations “are exploiting their extensive underground tunnel system to threaten the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East.”
He said that it is important for the United States to continue its strong partnership with Israel “and give them the tools they need to combat these tunnels.”
“The United States must send the message that we stand with Israel—especially given the barrage of recent terrorist attacks against Israel during Passover,” said Pfluger.