Israel’s defense establishment is developing plans to construct a concrete wall tens of meters under and above ground along the border that divides the Israel and the Gaza Strip, Ynet reported on Thursday.
Similar to the “West Bank barrier” or security fence that Israel began building in 2002 to separate Israelis from violent Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, this newest wall is intended to protect Israelis living along or near the border from infiltration via terror tunnels as well as defend against cross-border fire.
The costs to build the wall are estimated at approximately NIS 2.2 billion ($570 million USD). The wall will cover 60 miles of land around Gaza’s southern border. Exact measurements of how high the wall will reach above ground and how deep it will run below ground have not yet been revealed.
According to Ynet, this wall will be the third defense system of its kind that Israel has built along the border. In 1994, after the Oslo accords were struck, Israel constructed the first 60-kilometer barrier. The second system was implemented after former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced the decision to remove all Jewish presence from Gaza in 2005. Neither of these efforts would ever be capable of combating the severe threat posed by Hamas’s attack tunnels.
While efforts against Israel’s enemies in the south continue, the IDF is simultaneously erecting a similar wall around some sections of the Israeli-Lebanon border in close proximity to several Israeli towns. The decision to build came after Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, publicly threatened attacks against civilians in the nearby villages.
Earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized his support for building walls, saying that doing so will “protect Israel against beasts,” referring to Palestinians who seek to carry out attacks against Jews. Netanyahu’s statement came while touring a new security fence near the southern Israeli city of Eilat which was being built along Israel’s border with Jordan.
Though many human rights activists have protested Israel’s construction of such walls, claiming they inhibit Palestinians’ ability to easily commute, security forces hold fast to them saying the walls have no doubt contributed to the significant decrease in suicide bombings and other attacks in areas where the wall has been completed.