US President Donald Trump is holding true to his campaign pledge of building a wall between the United States and Mexico, calling it “necessary” and citing Israel’s security fence as an example.
The “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the two countries will reportedly stand 10-16 meters high and stretch 1,000 miles (1,609 km.) of the 1,900-mile (3,100-km.) border, with natural obstacles such as mountainous areas and uninhabitable deserts taking care of the rest of the distance.
In an interview on Thursday with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Trump touted the plan, saying that “it is good for the heart of the nation, because people want protection and a wall protects. All you have to do is ask Israel
In 2002, Israel began constructing a security barrier of its own – a system of fences and concrete walls – in the West Bank, during the height of the second intifada and has since has built security barriers along its southern border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip, as well as along its northern border with Lebanon.
Trump continued: “They [the Israelis] were having a total disaster [with terrorists] coming across and [then] they had a wall; it is 99.9% stoppage; a proper wall, not a wall that is this high like they [US border authorities] have right now; they have little toy walls... I am talking about a real wall. And even that, of course, will have people violate it, but we will have people waiting for them when they do.”
Saar Koursh, CEO of Magal Security Systems, an Israeli defense and security firm touted as a front-runner in providing smart technology for Trump’s wall, told The Jerusalem Post
that a combination of a fence and wall would be the best type of barrier and that a wall of 16 meters is “unnecessary.”
“If you take the Israeli example, it’s mostly a fence, with a wall in urban areas like east Jerusalem,” Koursh told the Post
, adding “the main disadvantage of a wall is that you cannot see through it. You cannot gather tactical intelligence with a wall, unlike with a fence where you can see if someone is trying to penetrate it.”
Established in 1965 as a branch of the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, Magal was privatized 15 years later and is now helping to secure 80% of Israel’s borders. With a long record of success and “battle proven” technology, Magal is the largest technology provider for perimeter detection systems and border security, Koursh told the Post
“The border-solution that Israel has deployed with Egypt is definitely a very successful model,” Koursh said. Magal’s sensors on the 5-8 meter high smart fence along Israel’s border with Egypt is credited with slashing the number of illegal African migrants arriving in Israel, with only 11 managing to breach the fence in 2016.
While Magal would not be building the actual wall, Koursh said the company would be able to equip any barrier with the right technology, providing “sensors on top of it, behind it, and under it,” making it a smart fence like Israel uses.
The company also has solutions for fast-deployment fence, and that is “the most important factor for the Trump administration,” Koursh said, noting that Trump “needs to have something that he can deploy relatively fast, as he doesn’t want to take 10 years to build it.”
One of the reasons behind Trump’s wall is to stop the smuggling of drugs into the US, but a wall above ground would not even put a small dent into the drug smuggling trade as Mexican cartels are notorious for their cross-border smuggling tunnels. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is credited with pioneering cross-border smuggling tunnels in the early 1990s and it is estimated that for every tunnel found, many built with sophisticated technology, at least 10 go undiscovered.
But, according to Koursh, one should not compare the threat of tunnels from Mexico to those that stem from the Gaza Strip. “In Gaza there is a lot of sand so it is relatively easy to dig,” he told the Post
, adding that they can go down a few tens of meters, but “this is not the case in Mexico.”
Any barrier between Mexico and the US should be “smart,” Koursh stressed, adding that Trump “doesn’t want a wall that will just be a monument with people climbing over it.” Magal was recently awarded a contract to equip the facilities one of the largest banks in Latin America with underground tunnel detection systems, which Koursh says can also be used along the US-Mexican border.
“Just putting a barrier will not stop someone from surmounting the wall; they can just climb on it. What you need is to have a barrier that can give indications, real-time information, real-time intelligence as to who is trying to cross it. And that is what we do.”