Israel and Hamas both said taking steps to secure Gaza border after breaches

Israel and Hamas both said taking steps to secure Gaza border after breaches

Defense Ministry reportedly mulling wall inside Israeli territory to thwart terrorists who sneak across; Strip’s rulers said to deploy extra troops to stymie infiltrations

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas prevent demonstrators from getting closer to the border during a protest along the border with Israel, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 2, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas prevent demonstrators from getting closer to the border during a protest along the border with Israel, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 2, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Authorities on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border launched efforts this week to prevent infiltration attempts into Israeli territory, following three such incidents by armed terrorists over the course of 10 days.

The Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, deployed additional troops to the frontier in a bid to prevent breaches of the border fence, understanding that these cross-border attacks risked provoking a harsh response by the Israeli military, according to the Palestinian Amad news outlet.

Israel’s Defense Ministry was also reportedly planning the construction of a six-meter (20-foot) high defensive wall inside Israeli territory across from the northern Gaza border, which is meant to provide nearby communities with additional protection from terrorist infiltrations.

In a span of 10 days, six armed Palestinian terrorists — many of them current and former Hamas members — got through the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip before being killed by Israeli troops. In one case on August 1, the gunman opened fire at IDF soldiers, injuring three of them, before he was shot dead.

Last Saturday, a group of four heavily armed terrorists, carrying assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and rations, attempted to infiltrate into Israeli territory before they were spotted and shot dead by troops on the border.

This photo shows RPGs and other weapons carried by four Palestinians who attempted to infiltrate into Israel through the border fence with Gaza, August 10, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Sunday morning, another gunman breached the security fence and opened fire at Israeli soldiers before he was killed.

On Monday night, the IDF announced that its forces had detained a suspect armed with a knife who had crossed the security fence along the southern Gaza border.

In recent years, areas of southern Israel near Gaza have been targeted by anti-tank missile attacks and small arms fire from inside the Strip.

The Defense Ministry has reportedly began considering construction of a wall to protect Israeli communities, which will be in addition to the new metal fencing currently being built along the border.

The plans for the wall are not yet complete, with officials from the defense and transportation ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office currently hammering out details and determining the cost of the project, which is expected to run into the tens of millions of shekels, according to a Monday report by Channel 12.

The wall is slated to stretch some nine kilometers (six miles) along Route 34, between Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and the city of Sderot.

A map from Channel 12 showing a planned defensive wall running inside Israel near the northern Gaza border, from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai along Route 34 to Sderot. (Channel 12 screen capture)

It comes to fill what some military officials view as a gap in the country’s defenses in the area against Gazan terror groups, especially Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave, and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Both have devoted vast resources in the impoverished territory to developing methods for circumventing Israel’s border defenses in a bid to carry out attacks against civilian populations and military targets inside Israel. These efforts have included the construction of dozens of underground tunnels into Israel, the deployment of thousands of hidden rocket launchers throughout the Strip, and plans for infiltration into Israel by armed assailants.

In response, Israel has developed new defensive technologies in recent years, including the Iron Dome missile defense system, an underground tunneling barrier now under construction, and an array of special and mostly secretive detection technologies deployed along the border.

Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Israeli security forces during protests along the border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on July 12, 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

But according to Channel 12, military officials still fear that in certain scenarios, groups like Hamas may still be able to deploy terror cells into Israeli territory during a war.

The new wall is meant to serve as an additional barrier inside Israeli territory, and to help herd any infiltrators into areas where the IDF will have an easier time locating and engaging them.

For the past year, Palestinians have staged regular marches on the Gaza border known collectively as the Great March of Return. The spring of 2019 saw a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and airborne arson attacks, but the violence waned in recent weeks due to a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

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