Gaza naval barrier nearing completion

200-meter barricade to reduce risk of Hamas infiltration by sea.

By
January 1, 2019 12:14
2 minute read.
A before (R) and after (L) of the sea barrier built by Israel, released August 5, 2018

A before (R) and after (L) of the sea barrier built by Israel, released August 5, 2018. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

 
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A naval barrier meant to stave off Hamas infiltrations from the sea is nearing completion, seven months after Israel began work on it.

The 200-meter sea barrier is made up of three layers: one underwater which is lined with seismic detectors and other tools, a second layer of armored stone and a third layer in the form of a mound. In addition to the three layers, a six-meter (20-foot) smart fence surrounds the breakwater to provide a final security measure.

The decision to build an upgraded naval barrier was decided upon after five Hamas frogmen (naval commandos) tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 armed with automatic weapons, fragmentation grenades and several types of explosives 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, with hundreds of 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 explosive, with hundreds of rockets fired toward southern Israel during nine months of violent protests along the Gaza-Israel security fence and Palestinians launching incendiary aerial devices and throwing explosive devices toward troops.

Thousands of Palestinians have taken part in the protests known as the “March of Return,” which began on March 30 and has also seen naval flotillas from Gaza try to cross into Israeli waters. More than 220 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded by IDF fire.

Last 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 that “Hamas sees potential in the sea like they saw potential in their tunnels.”

In August, the IDF destroyed a naval terror tunnel belonging to Hamas, which would have enabled terrorists entering from a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip to exit into the sea unnoticed. The tunnel would have made it possible to carry out terrorist acts against Israel from the sea.

The route of the tunnel, which was operational but did not actually extend into Israeli waters, reached a depth of two to three meters and was three kilometers from the border with Israel. It was identified by the IDF as part of a campaign against Hamas’s naval force in the past year.

The tunnel was destroyed on June 3 by an airstrike, which was part of the IDF’s retaliation against the barrage of mortars and rockets from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Also on Tuesday the IDF and Defense Ministry decided to expand the Gaza fishing zone. The move was reported by the Ynet news website to be in response to the relative calm on the border.

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