TEL AVIV – As the debate over Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to dominate the presidential race, Israel is reportedly planning to move ahead with a massive above and underground concrete barrier along the entire border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The barrier was revealed on Thursday in a story splashed across the cover of Yedioth Aharonot, Israel’s largest daily newspaper. The story was published with the approval of the country’s defense ministry.
Yedioth’s affiliated website, Ynetnews, has the details:
Israel’s defense establishment’s plan to build a concrete wall tens of meters underground as well as above ground along the Gaza Strip border was revealed by Yedioth Ahronoth Thursday morning. …
The wall will stretch along the 60 miles of the southern border around the Gaza Strip, and will in fact be the third defense system of its kind Israel has built along the border.
The first 60-kilometer barrier was constructed in 1994 following the Oslo accords, while the second system was built following the decision to disengage from Gaza in 2005. Neither of the efforts, however, provided comprehensive solutions to the threat of attack tunnels.
The report comes after two Hamas terror tunnels were discovered crossing into Israel in April and May.
As Israel confronts threats along its borders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the construction of new barriers a major national security priority.
In February, Netanyahu announced he is working to surround the entire country with fences and barriers “to defend ourselves against wild beasts” that surround the Jewish state.
“We are preparing a multi-year project to encircle Israel with a security fence, to defend ourselves in the Middle East as it is now, and as it is expected to be,” Netanyahu stated at the time.
“At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” said Netanyahu. “I’ll be told, ‘This is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the area that we live in, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”
He said the plan would take several years to complete and that besides the fence around the country his government will also work to close the breaches in the security barrier that straddles the West Bank.
“This thing costs many billions, and we’re working on a multi-year plan of prioritization so it would be spread out over years in order to gradually build it, and to complete it to defend the State of Israel,” Netanyahu added.
Israel’s barriers are largely aimed at keeping terrorists out, but another major priority has been to stem the flow of illegal African migrants attempting to cross into the Jewish state along the Israel-Egypt border. To that effect, Israel in 2013 completed construction of a border fence along the Israel-Egypt border, and the numbers of illegals crossing the border massively decreased.
Israel began construction of the West Bank security barrier in 2002 at the height of the second Palestinian intifada, or terrorist war of shootings and suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians. That intifada was launched after PLO leader Yasser Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state during U.S.-mediated negotiations in the summer of 2000.
Upon the completion of a significant continuous section of the security fence in 2003, Israel already saw a marked decrease in the number of suicide bombers able to penetrate Israeli cities.
About 95% of the barrier consists of a chain-link fence backed up by high-tech surveillance systems and not the concrete barrier routinely shown by the news media. The concrete barriers are usually only located in areas where the wall intersects with Israeli communities and roads, including areas of previous Palestinian shooting attacks.
Trump has numerous times pledged to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border to stem the flow of illegal aliens and criminal drug traffickers.
“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump declared during his speech announcing his 2016 presidential bid.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.