The Israeli ministry for military affairs says it has begun the construction of an upgraded barrier along the Gaza Strip amid mounting tensions near the fence separating the impoverished Palestinian enclave from the occupied territories.
“On Thursday, we began working on the final component of the barrier project along the Gaza border,” Brigadier-General Eran Ophir, head of the Israeli military’s fence-building administration, said on Sunday.
The official said the barrier was “unique.” He claimed the project was aimed at dealing with “threats from the Gaza Strip and will provide a maximum response to prevent entry” into the Israeli-occupied land.
The barrier is set to stand six meters (20 feet) off the ground, and will be 65 kilometers long.
It will be made from galvanized steel, and will weigh about 20,000 tons.
The smart fence is the above-ground part of an underground barrier, which has a system of advanced sensors and monitoring devices to detect cross-border tunnels built by Gaza-based resistance fighters.
“At the end of last week, we began the construction of the barrier on the Gaza border,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and minister for military affairs, told journalists in Hebrew before the weekly cabinet meeting.
He added, “The barrier will prevent infiltration from Gaza into our territory. Those in Gaza have to understand that if they do not keep quiet, we will not hesitate to act.”
Palestinians have held weekly protests on the Gaza border, over the siege on the enclave and the right for refugees to return to their homes they were forcibly expelled from during the 1948 creation of Israel.
Nearly 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
On June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.
The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
It also called for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”