Gaza: Palestinian demonstrators take cover as Israeli troops take position during a protest at the border fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied territories in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 18, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)
The Israeli ministry for military affairs says it has begun the construction of an upgraded barrier along the Gaza Strip amid mounting tensions near the fence separating the impoverished Palestinian enclave from the occupied territories.
“On Thursday, we began working on the final component of the barrier project along the Gaza border,” Brigadier-General Eran Ophir, head of the Israeli military’s fence-building administration, said on Sunday.
The official said the barrier was “unique.” He claimed the project was aimed at dealing with “threats from the Gaza Strip and will provide a maximum response to prevent entry” into the Israeli-occupied land.
The barrier is set to stand six meters (20 feet) off the ground, and will be 65 kilometers long.
It will be made from galvanized steel, and will weigh about 20,000 tons.
The smart fence is the above-ground part of an underground barrier, which has a system of advanced sensors and monitoring devices to detect cross-border tunnels built by Gaza-based resistance fighters.
“At the end of last week, we began the construction of the barrier on the Gaza border,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and minister for military affairs, told journalists in Hebrew before the weekly cabinet meeting.
He added, “The barrier will prevent infiltration from Gaza into our territory. Those in Gaza have to understand that if they do not keep quiet, we will not hesitate to act.”