Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on southern border 370.
(photo credit:HERB KEINON)
Israel will encircle its land borders with physical barriers that give it the ability to control its
boundaries, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday on a tour of the 4.7-
meter-tall, 242-kilometer-long fence going up along the Egyptian
Netanyahu flew by helicopter to the border with Sinai, as he has
done at six-month intervals over the past three years, to look at the progress
on building the barrier that will extend from Kerem Shalom near the Gaza Strip
to Eilat on the Red Sea.
The prime minister, looking at a stretch of the
fence located along the border not far from Mitzpe Ramon, expressed satisfaction
with the pace of the work, which is scheduled to be completed by early next
“A small country like ours cannot have porous borders.
cannot allow free access through our borders,” he said.
will encircle Israel with physical barriers that give us the ability – along
with other means – to control our borders. We will finish that
Netanyahu has spoken in the past about building a similar barrier
along the Jordanian border.
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.- Gen Yair Naveh,
who accompanied the prime minister on the tour, said that following completion
of the barrier on the southwestern border, work would begin on rebuilding the
fence on the Golan Heights.
The fence on the Golan border needed to be
rebuilt because of the changes taking place inside Syria, Naveh
“The challenges along the borders are changing as a function
of the changes around us,” he said.
Naveh said the IDF action earlier
this month against Zuhair Qaisi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees
in the Gaza Strip, was taken because a cell he headed planned an attack near
where Netanyahu visited on Tuesday.
Qaisi’s killing sparked a week of
violence in the South.
Sinai had changed dramatically in the past year,
and was now a “no-man’s-land, a wild area of smuggling and terrorist activity,”
The prime minister said that the fence did three things: it
barred entrance of illegal workers, stopped smugglers, and was a barrier to
So far 104 kilometers of the fence along the Egyptian border
have been completely built, reinforced with razor barbed wire, and augmented by
patrol roads and intelligence collecting devices that Netanyahu characterized as
“impressive and effective.”
Netanyahu, who on the helicopter ride to the
fence was reading Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s The Essential Talmud, said the fence
answered one of Israel’s four main challenges, which he identified as the
nuclear threat, the missile threat, the cyber threat and the border
The prime minister said that controlling the borders was a key to
the country’s future, and that without an effective border Israel would be
flooded within a decade with “hundreds of thousands” of infiltrators looking for
work who would alter the character of the state.
Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir,
who heads the project, said that 200 kilometers of the fence would be completed
by August, and 227 kilometers by October.
The remaining 15 kilometers (6
percent) surrounding Eilat – which will be built on very difficult topography –
is to be completed by next March.
According to numbers given to
Netanyahu, some 1,250 people – working for 30 contractors – are building the
barrier at the pace of about 20 kilometers a month. Some 480 trucks are being
used, and the amount of earth that has been removed for the project could fill 1
million semi-trailer trucks.
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