(screenshot of IDF Twitter page via israel21c.org)
Smugglers of drugs and illegal migrants using tunnels along the U.S.-Mexico border may want to keep an eye on Israel. The American government, after all, is co-sponsoring the tunnel-detection technology now being developed by Israeli engineers.
Described by the Hebrew media as the underground equivalent of Iron Dome anti-missile defence system, this latest innovation made world headlines upon the announcement that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) uncovered a two-kilometre-long, concrete-lined tunnel on Israel’s Gaza border.
While the Israeli government has been funding its development for five years, few details about the new system have been reported until now. News reports say that up to 100 companies – including Iron Dome’s developers, Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems – are involved in assembling the detection system. Military units, Shin Bet security agency officers, civilian engineering, infrastructure contractors and tunnel construction experts are also credited with helping.
“The search for tunnels is at the top of our priority list … and we will not spare any efforts,” said Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, following the IDF announcement that it found a tunnel extending from southern Gaza into Israeli territory.
The fine details about how the anti-tunnel technology works are still under wraps but, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, dozens of Israeli-developed sensors gather information from the field and transmit it to a control system for analysis using advanced algorithms. The system, says the report, can identify the length of the tunnel and its exact location without false alarms.
“We do whatever we can to find a technological solution,” Maj. Gen. Nitsan Alon, head of the IDF operations directorate, said at a briefing. “Dealing with the phenomenon of tunnels is very complex, and the state of Israel is a world leader in this field. This battle demands from us persistence, creativity, and also responsibility and good judgment.”
According to a report in Defence News, Israel’s Ministry of Defence has invested more than $60 million in anti-tunnel technologies. In February of this year, the Financial Times reported that the United States will provide $120 million over the next three years to help develop complementary technologies.
An Israel Today report says Israel is building a counter-tunnel barrier along its Gaza border that “will also feature a state-of-the-art fence, complete with sensors, observation balloons, see-shoot systems and intelligence gathering measures, as well as an underground wall.”
A video of the IDF discovering a Hamas tunnel in southern Israel can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=yETrQXh2FZU.
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