Israel’s defense establishment plans to plant trees around homes in Gaza border communities to obscure potential targets for anti-tank missiles fired by terror groups, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday.
Moshe Feder, 68, was killed in May when a Kornet anti-tank guided missile slammed into his car as he was driving along Route 34, close to the border with Gaza. The Hamas terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Israel Defense Forces later said it had failed to recognize the risks posed to Israeli drivers on the road, north of the Gaza Strip.
According to Channel 13, senior defense officials, including the commander of the Southern Brigade, toured communities close to the Gaza perimeter and mapped which homes were at risk from anti-tank missiles and would benefit from the tree-planting program.
Last month, construction began on a 900-meter-long earth embankment along Route 34 to protect drivers. Discussions are also being held on the possible construction of a fence that would be erected to a height of dozens of meters, Channel 13 reported.
The work will be carried out in tandem with other defensive measures in the region, including the underground barrier on the Gaza border, proposed by the military following the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. During the fighting, the Hamas terror group made extensive use of tunnel networks to send fighters into Israel, as well as to move its terrorist operatives and munitions within the Gaza Strip.
Work began in earnest on the Defense Ministry-led project in 2016. According to the military, it is due to be completed by the end of 2019.
The 65-kilometer (40-mile) barrier is being constructed entirely inside Israeli territory, 50 meters (some 55 yards) from the Gaza border at its closest point and 300 meters (328 yards) away at its farthest.
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 against civilians.
They were used repeatedly against Israeli tanks throughout the 2014 war, through they were relatively ineffective as they were intercepted by tanks’ Trophy active defense systems.
Last November, a Kornet missile 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, the Hamas terror group 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.
Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, and is the de facto ruler of the territory.