An Israeli military commander says the regime will speed up building a huge wall around the blockaded Gaza Strip in a bid to prevent what it claims to be tunneling into the occupied territories.
“In the coming months, we are going to accelerate the construction of the barrier,” Major General Eyal Zamir, the head of the Israeli Southern Command, said on Thursday.
He further expressed hope that the project “will be complete in two years.”
The 64-kilometer-long wall, comprising concrete planks and sensors, will reach a depth of 40 meters below the ground and a height of 6 meters above it.
The project is expected to cost approximately three billion shekels ($834 million).
The wall will be erected in the occupied lands parallel to the fence sealing off Gaza, according to Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Zamir cautioned the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, which runs the Palestinian coastal enclave, against any attempt to foil the construction of the wall.
“If Hamas chooses to go to war over the barrier, it will be a worthy reason (for Israel) to go to war over. But the barrier will be built,” the commander said.
He further noted that the Israeli forces had mapped the alleged militant emplacements hidden under Gaza civilian sites that may be attacked in any new war on the coastal sliver.
Following the last Israeli offensive against Gaza, Israel understood that it needed to come up with a solution and “this (the wall) is the solution,” Zamir concluded.
Separately on Thursday, Israeli media reported that the military also planned to build an underwater barrier in the Mediterranean Sea to prevent any purported infiltration from Gaza in the occupied land.
Hamas dismisses Israeli ‘lies’
In response, Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, rejected the Israeli claims as “lies and fabrications that aimed to damage the image of the Palestinian resistance and justify the mass killing of thousands of Palestinians civilians”.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
Tel Aviv has waged three wars on the coastal enclave since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
Israel claims that Hamas uses Gaza tunnels to store weapons and infiltrate into the occupied territories.
The resistance group, however, says the underground tunnels are needed to defend Gaza against Israeli attacks and transfer essential supplies, including food and fuel, into the besieged Palestinian territory.