The upgraded barrier includes detection equipment to guard against terror tunnels being constructed from the enclave into Israel.
By World Israel News Staff
Israel has completed construction of a 65-kilometer high-tech barrier running both above and below ground on the border with the Gaza Strip. The upgrade took three and a half years to complete at a cost NIS 3.5 billion ($1.1 billion).
“There is no place in the world that has built an underground barrier,” Fence Administration Director Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir said at the opening ceremony Tuesday. “It was a very complex project, both operationally and engineering-wise.”
The technical difficulties were not the only challenges faced by the construction team.
“The work was not easy, we went through 15 rounds of fighting, we were shot at, and we didn’t stop work for a moment,” Ofir said.
The upgrade came in the wake of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, in which Hamas made extensive use of cross-border tunnels with the aim of infiltrating southern Israel. Some 70,000 Israelis currently live in over 50 communities within the Gaza area.
The new border fence includes an underground barrier running along the entire Gaza border, a maritime wall, and a steel fence standing six feet high above ground. It also incorporates sensors and monitoring devices to detect tunnel building.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the barrier as “a creative, technological project of the first order,” adding that it “denies Hamas of one of the capabilities that it tried to develop and places an iron wall, sensors, and concrete between it and the residents of the south.”
Warning that Israel could currently be in a “calm before the storm” thanks to recent threats by Hamas and other groups, he added: “Routine life here is our victory and it is the greatest enemy of terror organizations.”
He continued: “We will prevent the transfer of Iranian knowledge and technology to Gaza, and we will continue to thwart any attempt by Hamas to operate its branches in Judea and Samaria or in Israel. Attempts that fail time and time again.”
Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, director-general of the Defense Ministry, lauded the fence as “one of the most complex engineering projects ever built,” adding, “it is further proof that there is no task that the defense establishment cannot perform.
“The barrier has already changed the reality in the south and will lead to the continued economic and social boom in the communities of the Gaza envelope.”