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Israel builds new barrier along Gaza Strip border

February 4, 2019

The Israeli government said the barrier is to prevent terrorists from entering Israeli territory. It will be 65 kilometers long and six meters high.

The barrier between Gaza and Israel
Image: picture-alliance/Photoshot

Israel on Sunday said it had started to build a new barrier along its border with the Gaza Strip, according to the Defense Ministry.

The ministry said in a statement that the above-ground barrier — 65 kilometers long and six meters high — would work in conjunction with an underground wall also under construction, to neutralize the possibility of cross-border tunnels built by Hamas militants.

Read more: Intifadas: What you need to know

"The barrier will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

The ministry said the barrier will be similar to the one that runs along the border with Egypt, but said it would have "significant improvements" and will be made up of some 20,000 tons of galvanized steel.

Israel 'will not hesitate to act'

The fence's construction comes after months of mass protests by Palestinians in Gaza along the border. They want to return to the homes their families fled in the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948, and are calling for an end to the Jewish state's blockade of Gaza.

At least 246 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since March 30 — the majority during border protests but also by tank fire and airstrikes. In comparison, two Israeli soldiers have been killed in the same period.

Read more: Deadlocked and divided: What now for the Palestinians?

The army said earlier on Sunday that it had arrested several suspects who approached the border from Gaza carrying knives and a cutter.

Netanyahu stressed that "if the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will make the decisions even in the elections period and will not hesitate to act."

Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, part of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. More than 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want these areas and the Gaza Strip for their own state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital.

law/bw (AFP, AP, dpa)