A visit to Israel, a country under constant threat

Recently, I returned from a trip to Israel along with other Members of Congress where I met with top Israeli and Palestinian officials and took part in briefings about key security issues. With all that’s going on right now, this trip could not have come at a more crucial time.

Surrounded by constant dangers, over 5 million Israelis live under the threat of rocket attacks. Last year, Hamas, a terrorist organization based in Gaza and funded by Iran, fired roughly 4,000 rockets into Israel that reached as far as Tel Aviv. To the north, Hezbollah, another terrorist organization funded by Iran, has accrued over 100,000 missiles and rockets, including those with long-range capability.

This is daily life for Israelis, where thousands of civilians have less than 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter after the sirens go off and schools and other major urban centers are often prime terrorist targets.

We received briefings about these threats. We saw the great lengths the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) go to in order to protect Israelis. We even heard them first-hand.

On a day where we traveled to the top of Mt. Bental in the Golan heights, we stood and looked out on Israel’s border with Syria, a country ripped-about by ongoing conflict. In the distance, we could hear explosions happening in Syria, a jolting reminder of Israel’s positioning surrounded by constant instability and threats to their security.

A dangerous deal

Despite facing persistent attacks, there is a larger, more dangerous threat that looms: A nuclear Iran.

Meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, the recently proposed deal with Iran paves their way to a nuclear bomb in 13 years, while removing sanctions and freeing-up billions in new funds for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

One of the main takeaways from my trip was hearing the across-the-board opposition to this deal — a clear sign that it’s bad for regional and American security.

It’s a false choice to say it’s either this deal or war. When Congress has been presented with bad deals like this in the past, it has rejected them and directed the Administration to go back to the negotiating table. It should do this now.

Israel is one of our closest allies and the only real democracy in the Middle East. We share a unique, historic bond with the Israeli people. We must stand with them now.

See photos and read more about my trip below.

With women members of the IDF. Israeli women must fulfill a mandatory minimum service of two years, something I saw that prepares them well for life after their service.

Just inside the Israel border with Gaza, next to the Nir Am reservoir.

With Yael Vizel, CEO of the clothing app Zeekit and a former Air Force officer, taking about her startup. Israel is a global tech leader and many of their young entrepreneurs served at one point in the military.

After hearing from rocket scientist Ari Sacher, who talked about the Iron Dome and David Sling Missile Defense systems. Both systems are supported by Raytheon employees in Tucson, who either design or help manufacture components of the missiles.

The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial. This powerful and moving display commemorates the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust and includes personal testimonies to celebrate their lives.

A memorial to the children killed in the Holocaust at Yad Vashem.

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