Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, it has been 22 days now since Hamas began its most recent campaign of terrorist attacks against the innocent citizens of Israel. Since the operation began, 32 tunnels have been uncovered that would have been used to attack Israel. On Saturday and Sunday--this past Saturday and Sunday alone--almost 100 rockets were fired at Israel. In the Gaza strip, since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge--that would have been July 8--there have been over 2,000 Hamas rockets fired into Israel, with Tel Aviv and Jerusalem both targets.
Israel has responded, as any nation protecting its people would, with air strikes and ground troops to silence these Hamas terrorists. Israelis are tough. I have to remind people all the time that since their independence back in the 1940s, they have been attacked--Israel has been attacked--six different times.
Remember how they were outnumbered in the Six-Day War in 1967. They won. They prevailed. Then again, the same thing in Yom Kippur--that was in 1973. Again, they prevailed. I have often kidded with them--I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu this, that the Israelis consider a fair fight being outnumbered two to one. So they are a great bunch of people. We have got to continue to support them.
The Hamas terrorists are not only killing Israelis; they are killing their own people too because they place their rocket launchers--we see this is happening, just yesterday we saw a picture of this--in the middle of their own population centers. We are talking in homes, in hospitals, in mosques. Like the cowards they are, they use civilians as human shields. Despite Israel's extensive precautionary behavior and measures to avoid collateral damage, casualties, unfortunately, have occurred. Hamas bears complete responsibility for the civilian deaths.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu said: Israel is using missile defense to protect our citizens, and Hamas is using their civilians to protect their missiles. To date, the Israeli missile defense system, called the Iron Dome, has successfully intercepted over 400 Hamas rockets headed toward the populated areas in Israel. I was just in Israel last month. I visited the Iron Dome battery. You see, there has to be a place where they initiate these protective devices. Here they are over there. I was so impressed with the young Israeli troops who operate it in the southern city of Ashkelon. The same battery you see on TV every night intercepting Hamas rockets comes from the Gaza Strip, 13 kilometers away.
I have a picture here I want the Presiding Officer to look at. This beautiful young first lieutenant in the Israeli Army I met. She is the one in charge of the Ashkelon battery down there. She is doing her duty right now as we speak, bravely protecting her fellow citizens. Her name is Lee Shmulevitch. I salute her.
It gives people an idea of the commitment that is being made by the Israeli people and the successes they are having. As ranking member, which I am, of the Armed Services Committee, I am proud to say I have been a constant supporter of the Iron Dome, which we have done on a nonpartisan basis. We have put in the authorization for $175 million in this last authorization bill. Then we added another $176 million that would take care of not just the Iron Dome but also other systems that we have such as David's Sling and Arrow 3.
These are jointly developed by the United States and Israel. I think it is important that people understand. I have heard people say: Well, you are just sending all this stuff over from us to Israel. If that were true, it would be worth doing it anyway, because they are looking out after our interests. Those things which they are not able to do in the Middle East we would have to be doing with our equipment, with your young people.
This is not the case. They have a lot of brave people over there. In the case of the Iron Dome, of David's Sling, of Arrow 3, and of a lot of the UAVs, their technology is technology that we use. So it is not something that we are doing for them. We are doing it mutually for each other.
I think it is important also to note at this point that--and nobody seems to put this together--Hamas would not have the rockets and capability of trying to kill all of these Israelis if it were not for Israel's greatest threat, and that is the country of Iran. Quite frankly, I think Iran is the greatest threat to the United States also. A lot of people do not realize this, but back in 2007 our--at that time it was classified--Our intelligence said that by 2015, Iran would have the weapon and a delivery system. Well, that is only 6 months from now.
That has been reconfirmed in our unclassified intelligence starting in about 2010. So right now it is really Iran that is responsible for what Hamas has been able to do. I might ask the question: What is President Obama doing? His rush to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran has undermined years of bipartisan sanctions that were working. We have sanctions, not just by us but by European countries and other countries that have really brought Iran down--not to their knees, because they are still developing their weapons. But nonetheless, they were working.
As part of the President's agreement--this is what he is doing right now. His agreement is to reduce Iran's sanctions, as he announced in January. He has endorsed Iran's right to enrich uranium. So let's stop and think about it. This is a deal he has cut. He said: All right. We will pull off our sanctions so you will be able to receive the benefit of that. At the same time we are going to let you go ahead and continue to enrich uranium.
He has allowed Iran to keep 19,000 centrifuges while unlocking $7 billion in assets. These are assets that were held which they can now use to their benefit. He has just extended the deal by agreeing to provide Iran with an additional $2.8 billion in frozen assets. That brings the $7 billion up to almost $10 billion. While Iran is building a bomb, Obama is releasing sanctions.
I believe the Iranians are using negotiations to buy time as they are developing their nuclear weapon. Again, Netanyahu called the President's agreement a ``historic mistake'' that is making the world a much more dangerous place. History is going to prove that he is right. Obama should demand Iran dismantle its nuclear program, but he will not do it. We should reinstate full sanctions now and consider additional sanctions. But President Obama will not do it.
Does anyone really believe Iran is not involved with Hamas and its attacks?
Today, Obama is rewarding Iran by releasing more financial assets to Iran, funding that will be used to support more terrorism against Israel. There is little to show for the administration's reckless gamble for Israel. President Obama is negotiating with an Iranian regime that has repeatedly deceived us and concealed its nuclear program for over 2 decades.
I see nothing different in this deal. Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood, surrounded by terrorists who refuse to even acknowledge the Jewish state's right to exist. They need all the friends they can get. I keep hearing people talk about the two-state solution. The two-state solution between Hamas and Israel is kind of interesting because Hamas does not consider Israel to be a state. So how can you have a two-state solution if you only have one state? That is the situation.
That is why I want to salute the country of Egypt. There are some other friends that we have over there. I have been upset with some of the Members here in this body because they do not have an appreciation for what Egypt does and the part they play in the Middle East and their support for Israel. Let me tell you, this started a long time ago. The Camp David Accords was in 1979. In the Camp David Accords they made a deal with Israel. Now, you have to keep in mind that this was the military of Egypt. It is hard for people in this country to see that sometimes there is a difference between the administration in a country and the military.
So it is the military here that has said: We will be protecting Israel. We had, not too long ago, an effort from this body to try to stop the shipment of some F-16s that Egypt had already bought. Now, granted, that was back during President Morsi and his radical Muslim Brotherhood. But nonetheless, these were going not to him but to the military. The newly elected President Sisi has destroyed--he is working right along with the Israelis. He has been involved, and his people and his military, in destroying over 90 percent of the tunnels that are going from the Sinai to Gaza.
So I only mention this because those individuals who do not understand this might consider punishing Egypt. If you punish Egypt, you are punishing, to the same degree, Israel.
The turbulent times we face serve as a reminder why the United States and Israel have to continue to work together. The same enemies that threaten the existence of Israel also want to destroy America. Over the years the United States has greatly benefited from the cooperation with Israel on missile defense technologies. We have to continue that critical partnership. Israel is our most faithful ally, our most critical partner in the region, and acts as a roadblock against terrorism, terrorism that would be hitting the United States of America.
The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel and supports its right to defend itself.
Since his first budget, President Obama has been degrading our military while also making the world more dangerous through an apologetic and reactive foreign policy of appeasement. I often quote Hiram Mann, who said:
No man escapes
When freedom fails,
The best men rot in filthy jails;
And they who cried: ``Appease, Appease!''
Are hanged by men they tried to please.
We have to get out of that system. We have to stand by Israel and hang tough with our best friend. We can't survive without them.
I often look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. That was back when they had two superpowers in the world, the USSR and the United States. We knew what they had, and they knew what we had. We knew what their capacities were, they knew ours.
They had a system called MAD, mutually assured destruction. It meant: You shoot at you, we will shoot at you. You die, we all die, and everyone is happy.
That doesn't work anymore. Now we have these rogue elements out there that are developing weapons that can wipe out an entire U.S. city. I am about not just the Middle East but about North Korea also.
So we are looking at the Middle East. We are looking at our only way of defending our allies there and working to stop the capabilities of countries such as Iran to have a weapon that would reach the United States of America. So we have to hang tough with our best friend Israel, and I pray that we do.