TEL AVIV – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured Israel’s border fence with Egypt Tuesday in order to gather information on Israeli border technology that can be adapted for the U.S.-Mexico border.
At a security conference later that day in Jerusalem, she said, “Border security is national security. Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone, and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they are doing to keep their territory safe.”
President Donald Trump has expressed admiration for Israel’s sensor-rigged security barrier on the Egyptian border that has all but stopped the flow of illegal immigrants from entering the country as well as preventing infiltration from terrorists. The security fence cost Israel around $380 million.
“From Ottawa to Berlin, our communities are now on the frontlines,” Nielsen said. “All countries represented here have experienced this evil in one form or another, whether your nationals have been victims or your homelands have been hit directly.”
The struggle “requires moral clarity,” Nielsen added.
“So all of us in this room must remember we are engaged in a generational struggle against Islamist militants, the preeminent terror threat to our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life,” she said.
As the Times of Israel noted, Nielsen’s blunt language echoes that of Trump and is reflective of the shift in rhetoric from the Obama administration, which sought to avoid associating terms like “Islamic” with“terrorism” out of fear that it would alienate Muslim moderates.
Nielsen praised Israel for its help in combating terrorism on the domestic front.
“Following the 9/11 attacks — the deadliest terror assault in modern world history — you were right there by our side,” she said. “We knew we could not win the coming fight alone. And we turned to you for guidance because the State of Israel has withstood decades of violence at the hands of fanatics — and has proudly defended freedom against relentless terrorist enemies.”
Nielsen has been under fire from Trump for not doing more to decrease the amount of illegal migrant entries into the U.S.
A U.S. official spoke to Reuters about Nielsen’s visit to the Israel-Egypt border.
“She understood the challenges and opportunities that exist there,” the official said.
A U.S. State Department statement said last week that Nielsen would “receive an operational briefing on Israeli border infrastructure technology and systems.”