The Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced that it is making significant progress in an operation to install defensive walls at key junctions in the Gaza corridor to protect against Hamas anti-tank missiles.
A statement said that the walls are designed to protect open areas through which Gaza corridor residents travel through even in an emergency situation.
The walls started going up in recent weeks as part of a pilot program and are expected to spread to a larger number of Gaza corridor areas.
What will the walls do?
Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir signed a deal widening the project which will be handled by a mix of the ministry, the IDF and the Israel Roads Company.
The walls do not necessarily protect the areas from rocket fire coming from above, a role mainly assigned to Iron Dome and other elements of Israeli missile defense.
In May 2021, Hamas fired an anti-tank missile toward an empty military bus near the community of Zikim, leading to injuring a soldier who was standing next to the vehicle from shrapnel upon impact.
There was also a public outcry at the time about the vulnerability of such vehicles to Hamas anti-tank weapons, with many noting that a bus-load of soldiers could have been killed.
An investigation found that the bus was on its way to bringing back about 10 paratroopers from a mission, and had traveled on non-exposed routes and dropped off the soldiers in the permitted area.
However, after the soldiers got off, the bus advanced a few more meters outside the base, where it was exposed, and was hit by an anti-tank missile.
Public criticism was also significant because it was the third time that a vehicle had been hit by anti-tank fire during a relatively short period.
A senior commander in the Gaza Division told reporters at the time that anti-tank guided missiles are a major threat, and that there have been 40 strikes against ATGM cells. Due to the military’s focus on those cells, Hamas only had around a dozen launchers left and feels hunted and vulnerable, he said.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.