Thursday, August 10, 2017

Israel creates an underground wall against Gaza against Hamas tunnels

Spanish technicians work on the work protected by the Army, according to the Israeli press

An international brigade of companies and operators is accelerating the construction of an underground wall around the 65-kilometer border of Israel with the Gaza Strip. The new barrier, unprecedented in global defense systems, aims to respond to the threat posed by tunnels dug by Hamas militants, the Islamist group that rules de facto in the Palestinian enclave, to infiltrate Israeli territory.

The project includes Spanish engineers and technicians subcontracted by local companies, the Israeli press reported Thursday quoting the Southern Command of the Army. Spanish diplomatic and economic sources consulted in Tel Aviv claim to ignore the presence of workers from Spain in works that have been carried out for weeks under strict protection of the armed forces, a few hundred meters from the line of demarcation that was stage Of a war three years ago.

Along with the Spanish technicians will be working Italian engineers and Israeli and Moldovan workers, to the sum of a thousand employees. The project uses drill rigs brought from Germany and special bentonite clays imported from Hungary to seal an underground cement barrier "several tens of meters deep," Haaretz reports. All contractors have been previously investigated by the Shin Bet, the secret security service.

The Israeli Defense Ministry's project to block underground attacks on nearby kibbutz has a budget of 3 billion shekels (about 750 million euros). It has recently been awarded to Israeli companies Danya Cebus, Solel Boneh, Olitzky and Gabbay, some of which have subcontracted machinery and work equipment in third countries, including Spain, according to information from the daily Maariv signed Thursday by the specialist Of defense of the newspaper, Yossi Melman.

A Spanish diplomatic representative in Tel Aviv consulted by EL PAÍS said that he had no record of hiring technical personnel and specialized operators from Spain in the works of the security barrier. If confirmed, the same source found it astonishing that they had not yet registered in the consular services, as is usual for those who have long resided in Israel. An official Spanish official source in Tel Aviv also said that it was not aware "today" of the presence of Spanish firms or the hiring of Spanish workers in a major defense project.

In the area of ​​the works usually produce armed incidents. During the night of last Tuesday the combat aviation bombarded positions of Hamás in the north of the Palestinian enclave. It was a reprisal for the launching of a rocket against Israeli territory, which fell on an uninhabited area near the coastal city of Ashkelon without causing casualties or material damages.

Eyal Zamir, the head of the Army's Southern Command, has informed the Israeli press that the underground wall will also extend underground beneath the maritime border with Gaza. The barrier will be provided with electronic sensors to detect attempts to drill the cement structure. "I think the other side has to review the military situation in view of the construction of the barrier," warned General Zamir. "If Hamas decides to launch a war (to defend its network of tunnels), the Army will also have a justified reason to fight," he argued after acknowledging that escalation of tension is causing.

During the summer war of 2014 (Operation Margin Protector) Israel located and destroyed 31 tunnels on the border with Gaza. The military intelligence services estimate that there are currently some 15 underground passages still operational. "I hope that Hamas does not attack (the works of the new wall), although the tunnels are its great strategic asset against Israel," Construction Minister Yoav Galant, a former military commander of the Southern Command, told Army Radio. On the southern border of the Strip with Egypt, a few smuggling tunnels continue to operate, after the Cairo government destroyed most of them after 2013 - after the military coup that overthrew the Egyptian Islamists - flooding them with channels and Wells of sea water.

Work to encircle the subsoil of the Gaza Strip has been under way for several weeks, with previous work at six frontier points such as installing cement factories, land clearing and man-made mounds to protect workers from The Hamas snipers. Starting in October, the project will expand to a total of 40 slots, where its will work in shifts 24 hours -except during Sabbat's rest day- with the goal of completing the barrier within two years. The new defensive system, which will be separated a few hundred meters from the current wall surrounding the Strip, will emerge on the surface with a metal fence six meters high.

The Israeli army has made public aerial photographs of the entrances to several Hamas tunnels located in civilian buildings - such as the family home of a leader of the group linked by a secret passage to a mosque - in the territory of Gaza, which Could be attacked by their Armed Forces causing numerous victims in case of war. A spokesman for the Palestinian Islamist movement quoted by Reuters described these allegations as "lies and inventions intended to damage the image of resistance."

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the 2014 war, two-thirds of them civilians. In the conflict 67 Israelis were killed, 61 of whom were military.

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