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Thursday, September 15, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel to build 'virtual fence' on border with Egypt

TEL AVIV — Israel has launched a project to establish a security barrier along the border with Egypt.


Officials said the Defense Ministry would oversee a project to build a so-called "virtual fence" along the 205-kilometer border with Egypt. They said the project, estimated at $500 million, would be conducted in stages and scheduled for completion in 2012.

"In light of recent security incidents in the south, a virtual fence that will aid in the detection and prevention of infiltration attempts will be set up on the Israel-Egypt border in the coming year," the Israeli military said.

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Officials said 45 kilometers of the barrier were built over the past eight months. They said another 100 kilometers were scheduled to be built by the end of 2011 with the remaining 130 kilometers set for completion by September 2012.

"Israel's border with Egypt is a border of peace," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a tour of the border on Sept. 13, said. "To continue the peace, there must be security and to this end a fence is necessary. Its rapid construction is important for both peace and security."

The prime contractor of the project was identified as Magna Technologies. The Israeli defense company said the barrier would include radars to monitor ground movement for several kilometers.

"I believe that recent events will accelerate the process of constructing the fence," Magna chief executive officer Haim Siboni, referring to an attack from Sinai in August 2011, said. "But this has been a long process of tests and checks over the past seven years."

Siboni said the system was designed to contain a low rate of false alarms. He said the radar could identify details in objects.

Officials said the Defense Ministry has accelerated the project amid the threat of Al Qaida and Hamas attacks from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They said the completion of the project was moved from 2013 to 2012.

The Israeli military has also deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the Egyptian border. The Navy was assigned to intensify surveillance over the waters of the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

"Their observers are in direct contact with the ships," Israel Navy Cpt. Or Dvir said. "They know everything: who is at sea, who is coming home, where they are going and why. And if a mark on the radar isn't recognized, the observers send ships to identify it."

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