Jerusalem: Israel is planning to build a massive concrete wall which will extend below ground along the Gaza Strip border, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has revealed. The barrier is aimed at combating the threat posed by Hamas tunnels crossing into the country from Gaza.
The wall, which will stretch along the 96km (60 mile) border around the Gaza Strip, will extend several dozen meters below the ground, and will also be present above the ground. It is estimated to cost US$568 million.
The costly plan – aimed at tackling Hamas terror tunnels – was cleared for publication by Israel’s military censor, according to Ynet, a website affiliated with Yedioth Ahronoth. The wall will be the third defense system of its kind to be erected along the border.
The first 60km (37 mile) barrier was constructed in 1994, following the Oslo Accords. The second was built following Israel’s decision to disengage from Gaza in 2005. However, neither system proved successful in combating the threat of attack tunnels.
Israel’s plan comes after two Hamas tunnels spanning from Gaza to Israel were discovered in April and May. Hamas has confirmed it is building tunnels, and residents in southern Israel communities bordering Gaza have reported hearing digging sounds under their homes, i24 reported.
Hamas has previously used tunnels to avoid or carry out attacks, store weapons, and enter Israel. It says, however, that the tunnels are needed to defend against Israeli fire.