by WorldTribune Staff, February 4, 2019
Israel has begun construction on a new barrier, including underground sections, along its border with the Gaza Strip.
“Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists before the weekly cabinet meeting on Feb. 3.
Netanyahu said the 20-foot-tall barrier “will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground.”
The barrier will extend 65 kilometers (40 miles) around the Gaza Strip. The new galvanized steel fence will be equipped with a number of sensors and other “modern security components,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said.
“The obstacle is unique and specially designed to protect against the threats from the Strip and to give a superior solution to preventing infiltration into Israeli territory,” said the head of the project, Brig. Gen. (res.) Eran Ofir.
The new barrier will be constructed within Israeli territory, a few dozen meters east of the current shorter, more easily penetrable fencing. The old barrier will not be removed, the Defense Ministry said.
An underground barrier is also under construction. The underground barrier is meant to neutralize the threat of cross-border tunnels built by Gaza terrorists.
The barrier project is expected to cost approximately New Israeli Shekel (NIS) 3 billion ($833 million), with each kilometer of the underground portion of the barrier costing approximately NIS 41.5 million ($11.5 million). The above-ground fence is significantly cheaper, at NIS 1.5 million ($416,000) per kilometer.
At its western end, the new above-ground barrier will join a fortified sea wall jutting into the Mediterranean which was built to stop Palestinian attacks by water, Israel’s Defense Ministry said.
In 2014, during the most recent Gaza war, Israeli forces killed four Hamas terrorists who had managed to cross into Israel by water.
Netanyahu pledged the upcoming general elections, set for April 9, would not affect security decisions.
“If the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will make the decisions even in the elections period and will not hesitate to act,” he said.