A before (R) and after (L) of the sea barrier built by Israel, released August 5, 2018.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Two months into construction of Israel's underwater barrier, the Defense Ministry has released the first pictures of the project meant to stave off Hamas infiltration into Israel by sea.
The 50m. wide by 6m. high barrier is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will stretch 200m. into the Mediterranean from the coast near Zikim, just north of the Gaza Strip.
The barrier is made up of three layers consisting of one layer below sea level, an intermediate layer of armored stone and a top layer of barbed wire. A fence will also surround the breakwater as an additional security measure.
“The construction of the barrier around the Gaza Strip, both on land at sea, is progressing at a rapid and impressive pace, and every day that passes, our counterterrorism capabilities around the Gaza Strip are growing stronger,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Israel's Navy shows their underwater strength (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
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The decision to build an upgraded naval barrier was made after five Hamas naval commandos tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
The terrorist frogmen were armed with automatic weapons, fragmentation grenades and several types of explosives devices. They were killed by the IDF in a combined attack from the sea, ground and air.
The new barrier, which has been designed to withstand severe sea conditions for many years, is aimed at preventing similar incidents. Hamas has significantly expanded its naval commando unit in the four years since the last conflict, with a reported 1,500 frogmen.
In February a senior Naval officer warned that Hamas was increasingly turning to the sea to carry out attacks
against IDF troops and Israeli civilians, saying, “Hamas sees potential in the sea like they saw potential in their tunnels.”
In June, the IDF for the first time destroyed a naval tunnel belonging to Hamas. According to a senior naval officer, the navy knew about the underwater attack tunnel for several months before an Israeli air strike destroyed it on June 3.
The tunnel, which was operational but did not actually extend into Israeli waters, would have enabled terrorists to enter Israel from a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip and exit into the sea unnoticed.
The border with Gaza is Israel’s most explosive boundary. Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel security fence since March 30 with at least 157 killed by IDF fire and thousands more wounded since the “Great March of Return” began.
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