Israel builds world-first marine barrier on the Gaza border

Construction is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

By
May 27, 2018 15:42
2 minute read.
Construction on a new barrier along the sea in Gaza

Construction on a new barrier along the sea in Gaza. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Defense Ministry has started construction on an underwater barrier, which will stretch from the southern Israeli community of Zikim out into the Mediterranean to stave off Hamas infiltration by sea.

According to Erez Cohen, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Engineering and Construction Department, the work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The barrier is made up of three layers, including one below sea level, a layer of armored stone and a third layer with barbed wire. In addition, a fence will surround the breakwater to provide a final measure of security. The length and depth of the barrier have not been revealed.

 “This is the only barrier of its kind in the world, which will effectively block the possibility of infiltrating into Israel via the sea... This will further thwart Hamas’s loss of strategic capabilities,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The decision to build an upgraded naval barrier was decided upon after five Hamas frogmen tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Armed with automatic weapons, fragmentation grenades and several types of explosive devices, they were engaged and killed by the IDF in a combined attack from the sea, ground and air.

Hamas has significantly expanded its naval commando unit in the four years since the last conflict, maintaining a reported 1,500 frogmen. The new barrier, which has been designed to withstand severe sea conditions and serve the defense establishment for many years, is aimed at preventing similar incidents.

The border with Gaza is Israel’s most volatile. Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel security fence since March 30, with at least 116 allegedly having been killed by IDF fire and over 13,000 wounded since the “Great March of Return” began, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.

Palestinians take part in protests for the "Great March of Return" in Gaza (credit: Reuters)

In February, a senior navy officer warned that Hamas was increasingly turning to the sea to carry out attacks against IDF troops and Israeli civilians, saying that “Hamas sees potential in the sea like they saw potential in their tunnels.”

Israel’s navy has placed more emphasis on training for underwater infiltrations. In 2015, it began deploying dozens of sensors as part of a new system named “Aqua Shield,” which can detect and alert the navy to suspicious underwater movement. The sensors were placed on the sea floor near both Gaza and Lebanon’s water borders with Israel.

Last April, Israeli authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle some 30 sets of professional-grade scuba gear into the Gaza Strip. The equipment, which is believed to have been destined for Hamas frogmen, was hidden in a shipment of sporting gear being brought into the coastal enclave through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Importing dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip, such as wetsuits, requires a special permit.

Related Content

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo
August 14, 2018
Egypt summons Palestinian groups for truce, unity talks

By TOVAH LAZAROFF, KHALED ABU TOAMEH