Israel begins construction of underwater barrier at border with Gaza

Construction began on a fortified marine wall at the northern edge of the Gaza Strip to prevent terrorist incursions from the sea.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

“No other barrier like this exists in the world today,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman enthused regarding the combination wall being built underwater and above ground at the northern edge of the Gaza Strip. Construction began on Sunday.

The blockade will consist of three parts – one underwater and two above. The first level above water will be made of armored stone, which can withstand the battering of sea waves for years, with barbed wire fencing on top. In addition, to protect the marine barrier from assaults, a security fence will surround it. Altogether, it will act as a large and long breakwater between Israel’s Zikim Beach and the northern Gaza seaside.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing,” Liberman said. “We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication.”

A part of the investment to which the defense minister was referring apparently included the training of hundreds of sea commandos by the Hamas terrorist organization, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist.

The impetus for building the underwater and overwater barricade actually stems from the time that four terrorists infiltrated Israel near Zikim Beach during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

IDF is digging deep

Although the infiltrators were eliminated before they could kill anyone, the IDF identified a weak point that needed to be addressed. The immediate solution was for the Navy to put in place a system of underwater sensors in the area that could warn of swimmers approaching from Gaza.

The water barricade will join its overland “brother” that has been under construction around the coastal enclave since 2016 – a 60-kilometer wall meant to stop Hamas from tunneling under the border into Israel, as it has tried doing numerous times over recent years. The army is digging deep – dozens of meters down – as well as raising a new, high fence festooned with sensors in order to detect any attempt at infiltrating Israel from underground.

There is a NIS 3 billion budget for this massive building project, scheduled to be completed around the end of 2019. The underwater barrier — whose cost was not stated — should be finished by the end of this year. It is being constructed by the Engineering and Construction Department and the Border and Seam Planning Department at the Defense Ministry.