EREZ , Israel, (UPI) — Work had begun on an above- and below-ground concrete barrier across the length of the Israel-Gaza border, the Israel Defense Forces announced.
The $533 million dollar project, approved in July by the Israeli Defense Ministry, will install a wall several stories beneath, and several stories above the 37-mile border to deter cross-border tunnel attacks from Gaza. It will include detection systems and guard towers. Construction began at the northern end of the border to protect a cluster of communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the initial barriers will be built adjacent to towns regarded as “next to the fence” with Gaza.
Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2007, often uses tunnels to enter Israel to launch attacks. Two tunnels were discovered earlier this year, the first found since the 50-day war between Gaza and Israel in 2014.
The barrier, called by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot the largest military project in Israel’s history, is at the risk of being de-funded: No money for the barrier has been included in Israel’s 2017-2018 budget, although Defense Ministry officials have said the project will not be delayed.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, visiting the border, said, “Money will not be a barrier to erecting the barrier.’
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