Israel Begins Construction on Underground Wall around Gaza

Israeli construction workers begin work on underground wall along Gaza border (screenshot Ynet)

Israel has begun building a concrete wall that will stretch around the Gaza border – both above and below ground – in an effort to block cross-border Hamas attacks.

Construction of the subterranean wall was urgently approved by the Defense Ministry this summer after Israel discovered two tunnels stretching into the country this year. One of the tunnels discovered was between 30 to 40 meters (100 feet) below ground and stretched dozens of meters inside Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ vast tunnel network first came to light during the last conflict in 2014. Israel discovered several tunnels used by Hamas fighters to carry out attacks and to hide. Since then, Israel has destroyed 32 terror tunnels, 14 of them in Israel.

The wall is expected to take years to build, cost 2.2 billion shekels ($568 million) and stretch around the entire 60-kilometer (37-mile) border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. It will run hundreds of feet underground.

The first portion will be built on the northern end of the border, protecting communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council which are frequently the target of Hamas rocket attacks.

Though funding for the barrier has not been included in Israel’s 2017-2018 budget, officials said the project will not be delayed.

“Money will not be a barrier to erecting the barrier,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said.

Hamas leaders maintain that an underground wall will not stop them.

“The Palestinian people and the resistance can overcome all the obstacles made by the occupation,” said Salah Bardawil, a senior Hamas official in Gaza. “The resistance is creative and advanced and doesn’t care about the occupation’s procedures.”