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Israel reveals 'impenetrable' sea barrier on Gaza coast

Aug. 6, 2018 12:24 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2018 2:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Ministry of Defense revealed on Sunday photos of an under-construction sea barrier on the maritime border with the besieged Gaza Strip to prevent the movement of the Hamas military wing out of the coastal enclave and into Israel.

Following two months of construction of the estimated 25 million shekel ($6,788,195) barrier, the Israeli Ministry of Defense published photographs of the 200-meter-long sea barrier in the Zikim beach area near northern Gaza.

The multi-million dollar project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 to "prevent potential infiltration of a Hamas terror cell," according to Hebrew-language news outlets.

The Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, commented on the shared photographs by saying that work at the sea barrier was progressing at a "fast and impressive rate."

When completed, the sea barrier would be 200 meters long, 50 meters wide, and six meters above water; a defensive infrastructure would also be constructed along the top part of the barrier.

The sea barrier will consist of three layers: an underwater level, topped by a layer of stone and an above-water barbed wire fence. The entire barricade itself will be surrounded by another fortified fence.

In addition to the sea barrier, Israeli naval forces have already deployed a sensor system that detects and warns against attempts to enter Israeli territory by divers or swimmers from Gaza.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense described the barrier as an "impenetrable breakwater," that is designed to withstand strong waves and last for years to come.

Lieberman said that Israel is "continuing intensive work to build land and sea obstacles around Gaza. Hamas is losing its capability to attack Israel every day."

The sea barrier comes in addition to a land barrier being constructed by Israel along the border with Gaza.

The construction of the 60-kilometer-long land barrier began in 2016 and is expected to be completed at the end of 2019.

The land barrier will have an above-ground metal fence with installed detection sensors. The barrier will also have an advanced underground protection system which extends dozens of meters below ground, the depth was not revealed, in order to detect and destroy underground tunnels that attempt to "infiltrate" into Israeli territory.

The decision to build the sea barrier was prompted by an incident during the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict, when Hamas fighters managed to enter Israeli territory by sea.

Since the 2014 war in Gaza, Israel has maintained an underwater sensor system along the maritime border with the northern Gaza Strip, enabling the Israeli forces to spot divers and swimmers in the area.

Israel has claimed an increased threat of "breaches" from the sea since mounting tensions in Gaza over recent weeks, during which time Israeli forces have killed an estimated 113 Palestinians along the Gaza border during massive demonstrations in protest of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The more than 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have suffered from a 10-year Israeli-imposed land, air, and sea blockade, which has plunged the small territory into poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

The UN has reported that Gaza could be "uninhabitable" by 2020.

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