Israel

Influential Senator Tours Hamas Terror Tunnels, Calls for Israel to Retain Golan

United States Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman toured attack tunnels on Sunday, which were dug by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which exercises complete political and military control over the Gaza Strip, JNS reported.

“The tunnels have been used by groups like Hamas to smuggle weapons and terrorize Israeli citizens,” Graham said in a tweet. “Cost of tunnel = cost of 2 new schools = cost of 30 new homes. #Hamas consistently makes the wrong choices for the people of #Gaza. Heartbreaking,” added Friedman.

The two men were briefed by Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi of the IDF Southern Command.

The Times of Israel reported that Graham visited the Golan Heights on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and vowed to “start an effort to recognize the Golan as part of the State of Israel.”

“I come here as an American. I come here to try to figure out what’s best for America. What’s best for America is a safe, secure and prosperous Israel,” Graham observed.

“Why? Common values, common enemies. And from a military point of view, the best friend the United States can possibly ever have in a troubled region. I cannot tell you how much intelligence has been given to the US from our friends in Israel to protect the American homeland.”

Graham continued: “So if you believe, as I do, [that] the State of Israel is a strategic partner to the United States, and its survival and its prosperity and security is relevant to American national security, you would come here, to the Golan.”

The senator then backed Israeli sovereignty on the plateau.

“For decades, this was one of the more peaceful parts of the border that Israel has to police. Not so much now. So I’ve got a simple message: I will go back the US Senate, working with Senator [Ted] Cruz, I will start an effort to recognize the Golan as part of the State of Israel, now and forever.”

Graham concluded: “Because to give this territory up would be a strategic nightmare for the State of Israel. And who would you give it to?”

Graham’s remarks come just days after human rights lawyers filed the first cases against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Israel’s continued control over the strategic territory has been receiving bipartisan support in the U.S. in recent months.

In January, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D – Md.) said, “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.”

Earlier, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, calling for the official recognition. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is also supporting the move.

A month earlier, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), introduced a resolution last month that stated, “Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is critical to Israel’s national security,” and that “Israel’s security from attack from Syria and Lebanon cannot be assured without Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Netanyahu later praised Graham in a statement to Israeli journalists, saying, “I was very happy to hear him say those words. I think this is a very important direction, and very, very promising to our national security.”

The prime minister stressed that securing “the Golan as part of Israel” was a priority to the Jewish State because “otherwise our border with Iran will be on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and we aren’t willing to accept that.”

[Photo: United States Embassy Jerusalem / Flickr ]