IDF forces revealed a tunnel in the Eshkol region in Southern Israel along the border with Gaza Strip, a second Hamas-run tunnel that was recently excavated. May 5, 2016. (Israel Army Spokesperson)
The IDF has begun construction on a massive, $600 million underground wall along the Israel-Gaza border intended to halt Hamas terror tunnels used to launch attacks and funnel weapons.
The wall, which will run the length of Israel’s 60-kilometer border with the Gaza Strip, will reach to a depth of several dozen meters, said IDF officials. The concrete barrier will also stretch above-ground.
The wall is the largest engineering project ever to be carried out by the IDF engineering corps, said General Gazi Eizenkot, IDF Chief of Staff.
Israel broke ground for the first portion of the new barrier along northern Gaza, near the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, which comprises a cluster of Israeli communities living under the constant threat of infiltration from terrorists burrowing underneath the nearby border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
High-tech detection systems and sensors incorporated into the thick concrete wall will represent an additional barrier to terrorists.
The IDF first proposed the wall in 2014, following Operation Protective Edge, a conflict with Hamas which saw terrorists entering Israel using a network of underground tunnels reaching from Gaza into Israel.
Over 30 tunnels were then discovered and destroyed. Since then, IDF forces have uncovered another two tunnels. Hamas has continued to dig new underground passages unabatedly.
Earlier in the year, residents in southern Israeli towns bordering Gaza began complaining of hearing the sounds of tunnels being dug underneath their homes, prompting a renewed call for IDF action. In February, Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to construct a barrier in order to “defend ourselves against wild beasts.”
The Defense Ministry approved the budget for the project, which will total 2 billion NIS and take several years to complete, in July.