A senior Israeli military official said Sunday that a massive underground barrier being built along the Gaza Strip border to defend against Hamas tunnels should be completed in a matter of months, assuming its funding comes through.
The Southern Command official said that the structure will include a wall deep below the ground as well as a fence above ground. Some parts of the roughly 60-kilometer (40-mile) border will also be flooded.
“If the budget comes at the right rate, then the barrier will be built in a matter of months,” the officer said.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing regulations, said the goal is to turn the underground network into a “death trap” for Hamas.
“We’re putting a lot of effort into that,” he said.
During the 2014 war in the Strip, Hamas terrorists managed on several occasions to make their way into Israel through a tunnel network.
Israel destroyed some 32 tunnels during that conflict. The official said the military is investing great efforts to stop the threat.
Earlier this year, the IDF uncovered two tunnels that crossed into Israeli territory from Gaza, the first such discoveries since the end of the 2014 conflict.
One tunnel discovered in April ran at a depth of approximately 30-40 meters (100 feet) below ground, extending dozens of meters inside Israel from the Gaza Strip.
In response to reports on the expansive border wall, a senior Hamas official, and several leaders of other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, vowed to strike Israel should an underground barrier be built along the border.
Ismail Radwan told a Hamas-affiliated news site in June that the project indicated Israel’s “failure to face the tunnels.” He stressed that the wall would “not limit the resistance’s ability to defend our people.”