At the end of August Israel will be marking three years since operation protective edge which exposed Israeli citizens to the deadly threat of Hamas tunnels from the Gaza strip.
These days, an Israeli citizen driving down south on route 34, towards Netivot, will notice a lot of movement near the border where an underground barrier is being built between Israel and Gaza, which will Be’ezrat Hashem stop Hamas from infiltrating Israel.
In order to provide such a large quantity of cement, the ‘Solel Uboneh’ firm constructed a cement plant nearby just for express needs of the project.
The company can be seen to the right of the road, but if someone were to try and approach it via the many dirt paths leading to it, he would immediately be blocked by a group of soldiers, since the area has been declared a closed military zone.
But even from a distance one can clearly make out the many cranes and what looks like drilling machinery. Bulldozers traveling all along the border and pipes scattered throughout the area are all part of the mega defensive construction project underway.
The barrier is a very significant project of the Ministry of Defense, and brings the highest echelons of the defense establishment to frequent the area and monitor the progress of construction first hand. Members of the security cabinet have also visited the site several times to follow the progress from up close.
The project was launched about a year ago with a ‘pilot program’ of around 400 meters. The pilot program was awarded to the ‘Solel Ubenah’ firm through its subsidiary company ‘Tzamentkal’.
As of now, the ministry of defense has only announced bids of up to 800 million NIS, but the ministry itself is estimating the costs of the underground barrier to reach 3 billion NIS.
According to the plans, the barrier will stretch over the entire 65-kilometer border with Gaza, penetrating deep into the ground. The barrier will also be equipped with highly sophisticated systems and censors which will give the army an early warning if movement is detected underground. Aside from preventing tunnels, the barrier will rise 6 meters above the ground, and will create a similar border-wall as to what Israel has built along the green line in Yehudah and Shomron.
For the residents living along the Gaza border the barrier carries an added level of psychological significance.
“The problem is not so much infiltration, as the physiological concern people have to go to sleep at night, since any moment a ‘Hamasnik’ can pop out of some pit”, says a concerned Gaza border resident.
“From this perspective, the barrier is like a small night lamp that people leave on at night before they go to sleep. It will prevent fears”.
Translated by Eli B.