The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday erected a concrete barrier around a section of road just north of the Gaza Strip where earlier this week a man was killed when a Kornet anti-tank guided missile fired from the enclave struck his car.
The military said it also planned to construct earthenware barriers, pave alternative roads and put up additional concrete walls to provide protection from such attacks in the currently exposed area.
The initial portions of the concrete barrier, which went up on Wednesday morning, were approximately three meters (10 feet) tall and covered only the area where this week’s attack occurred.
“As a result of lessons learned from previous rounds of fighting, and resulting from analysis of the area and the relevant threats from the Gaza Strip, there is a major effort to protect certain areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip to adapt the areas to threats, including the threat of anti-tank and direct fire. As part of this effort, earthwork and engineering are being carried out in the area, [as well as the] paving of bypass roads and concealing exposed axes. This effort is currently ongoing,” the army said in a statement.
The Hamas terror group said its fighters fired the missile Sunday at the Route 34 highway near the community of Kibbutz Erez. The Kornet slammed into Moshe Feder’s car. The 68-year-old grandfather sustained a serious shrapnel wound to the leg, causing significant blood loss, and was pronounced dead at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center after CPR efforts failed.
That strike was one of two cases of Hamas firing the Kornet anti-tank guided missile, a precise, deadly and costly weapon, at Israeli targets on Sunday, the military said. The second attack did not cause Israeli casualties, according to an IDF spokeswoman.
Currently, the military’s primary means of protecting Israeli motorists is closing off roads immediately surrounding the Gaza Strip “in times of emergency and according to the assessment of the situation, due to their exposure to fire,” the army said.
Indeed, before the attack on Sunday, the army had ordered some roads around the Gaza Strip closed in light of the threat of sniper and missile attacks from the enclave, but not Route 34, which was left open.
“The specific road where the civilian’s vehicle was hit was not closed due to the distance. At the time, we didn’t see that threat,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Sunday evening.
Route 34 is located about 2.5 kilometers from populated parts of the Gaza Strip in some sections. A train route that runs along Route 34 on an elevated track in the same area of the attack was shut for fear of attacks, but the highway was kept open.
The Russian-designed Kornet has an effective range of up to 5.5 kilometers. Unlike the rockets used by terror groups in the Strip, the laser-guided anti-tank missile is highly accurate.
The spokesman said the military was investigating the matter and that it is “very much an ongoing event.” Conricus added that once the IDF completes its probe of the attack, it will release the findings to the family of the victim and the public.
Feder, a Kfar Saba resident, was survived by two children and his partner, Iris Eden. Eden lost her husband, Yashish Eden, in a deadly helicopter crash in 1997. Known as the “helicopter disaster,” that incident saw 73 IDF servicemen lose their lives when two aircraft collided near the northern border with Lebanon.
Speaking to the Ynet news site, Eden said that when she heard about the attack, she knew that Feder was the casualty.
“I’ve been through a few things in my life and I did not need an official statement [to learn] about his death,” she said. “He was my second love — a kind and generous man. We had established a family together with the children and grandchildren over the last three years.”
While Hamas and other terror groups have long had Kornet missiles in their arsenals, the weapon’s high price tag means they are typically used against higher profile military targets, not civilians.
Kornet missiles were used repeatedly against Israeli tanks throughout the 2014 Gaza war, through they were relatively ineffective, as they were intercepted by tanks’ Trophy active defense systems.
A Kornet missile was last used in November, when one was fired at a bus that had just been full of soldiers east of the Gaza border at the Black Arrow memorial site, sparking an intense two-day battle. One serviceman, who had remained on board, was seriously wounded in the attack.
In April 2011, Hamas fired a Kornet missile at a school bus in the Sha’ar Hanegev region of southern Israel, east of Gaza, killing a 16-year-old student on board, Daniel Viflic.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.