Israel to construct sea barrier at Sinai border with Egypt

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Israel’s military has approved a project to erect a sea
barrier along the border with Egypt.

Officials said the Israel Navy has been assigned to plan the
construction of a barrier that would prevent insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai
Peninsula from reaching Israel.
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The officials said the Project Hourglass would be launched by 2014 in the Gulf of Aqaba in cooperation with Egypt.

“The ability of terrorists to reach Israel from Sinai is very easy — even with constant naval patrols,” an official said.

The officials said the sea barrier would separate Egypt’s Taba resort from the Israeli city of Eilat. They said the barrier would begin from the floor of the Red Sea and come above the surface.

“We think the project could be finished within a year,” the official
said.

The Israel Navy has determined a sea-based threat by the growing Al
Qaida-insurgency in Sinai. Officials said the navy warned the military’s
General Staff that Palestinian or Al Qaida-aligned fighters could pose as
water skiers from Sinai and reach the Eilat coast within minutes.

Another scenario was that Sinai-based insurgents would fire rockets from
boats toward the hotels along the Israeli coast. Officials cited the failure
of the military’s missile alert system to detect three rockets toward Eilat
in early July.

“This area challenges us in terms of security, but the Egyptians, the
Jordanians and we have a shared interest in maintaining peace there,” Chief
of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said.

Officials said the sea barrier would be completed in parallel with the
construction of a border fence between Egypt and Israel. They said the
200-kilometer border fence project has reached the last stage, sealing 15
kilometers of mostly mountains near Eilat.

“We believe this will be completed in early 2014,” the official said.

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