If ‘Walls Don’t Work,’ Why Not Try What Israel Is Doing: Underground Barriers

It’s not a “wall,” per se, but it’s just as impenetrable.

The Israeli government is building a massive underground barrier to prevent people from digging tunnels from Gaza into the Jewish state that will stretch well into the Mediterranean sea.

The idea is to keep Hamas from sending their terrorist troops en masse across the border to wreak havoc.

The Gaza Strip border is Israel’s most chaotic – with rocket fire a common occurrence. In fact, on Tuesday night, one was fired from the northern part of the Strip striking near Ashkelon.

Some are worried that the underground barrier may push Hamas to step up their attacks on Israel.

The head of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir stated on Wednesday that “this wall can potentially lead to a dangerous escalation” despite the fact that the barrier is being built entirely in Israeli territory.

Following Operation Protective Edge, Israel understood that it needed to come up with a solution and “this is the solution,” Zamir stated.

The underground barrier –  really a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices designed to detect tunnels – is made from European bentonite, the Jerusalem Post repots, and is combined with a 20-foot-high above-ground fence similar to the one which runs along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Construction of the barrier is expected to cost over $830 million and be completed within two years. It began near Sderot last year and is led by Brig.- Gen. Eran Ophir, head of the army’s fence-building administration.

The IDF is confident that no tunnel will be able to cross the underground barrier, which it says will change the reality on the ground for both Israel and Hamas.

During the 2014 war, several soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen when they popped out of the numerous tunnels dug into Israel by the terror group, surprising the IDF and leaving the residents of border communities concerned about possible tunnels beneath their homes.

By the time of the last cease-fire, the IDF said it had destroyed 32 tunnels that crossed under the border.

Hamas continues to invest significant amounts of manpower and money into their tunnel system. Zamir described it as a “metro system” of three different kinds of tunnels including smuggling tunnels with Egypt, tunnels inside the Strip used for command centers and weapons storage and offensive tunnels used for cross-border attacks into Israel.

According to Zamir, many of the tunnels run under civilian homes in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, he presented two residential buildings used by Hamas, including one which belongs to a family with six children and another six-story building built within the past two years.

“Any civilians who stay in these buildings endanger their lives and the lives of their families. It’s Hamas who endangers them first and foremost, but every building over a tunnel is a legitimate military target,” Zamir said.

Robert Gehl

About Robert Gehl

Robert Gehl is a college professor in Phoenix, Arizona. He has over 15 years journalism experience, including two Associated Press awards. He lives in Glendale with his wife and two young children.