Project solution to Hamas terror tunnel network; Barrier to go several meters underground; Senior Hamas member defects to Israel
A report released Thursday announced plans by Israeli defense establishments to construct an underground concrete wall along the Gaza Strip border with Israel as a solution to Hamas’s ongoing terror tunnel network.
According to the report, a concrete wall will be constructed along the 61-kilometer border with the Gaza Strip, the wall to go several meters underground. The project will reportedly cost close to 2.2 billion NIS, much less than previously proposed projects.
The wall would be Israel’s third defense barrier to be constructed on the border with the Gaza Strip. The first barrier was constructed post-Oslo Accords in 1994, the second following the disengagement from the Strip in 2005. During the disengagement, over 8,500 Israeli, Jewish citizens were pulled from their homes as an effort for resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The Gaza Strip was then taken over by Hamas. Since then, Israel has been subject to rocket attacks and terror tunnels into Israeli territory for over a decade.
Two tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel were discovered in April and May of this year. The tunnels, both around 30 meters underground, were neutralized by the IDF. During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, the IDF destroyed Hamas’s terror tunnel networks, destroying 34 tunnels. The tunnels were used for smuggling weapons and materials for creating rockets as well as for infiltration of terrorists into Israeli territory.
The announcement of the project comes following the defect of a senior Hamas member, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, to Israel in June. Reports of his defect were released to the public this week. Baraka reportedly crossed the border into Israel with his family, defecting from Hamas and giving Israel information on Hamas’s tunnel operations.